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Ghost Canyon

'16 Blocks'
(Bruce Willis, Mos Def, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2006 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Based on a pitch by Richard Wenk, the mismatched buddy film follows a troubled NYPD officer who's forced to take a happy, but down-on-his-luck witness 16 blocks from the police station to 100 Centre Street, although no one wants the duo to make it. The story is a redemptive tale for characters who are polar opposites. The cop, a dark guy and a heart attack waiting to happen, who is escorting this witness who is a 14-time loser with a sunny outlook.

DVD Verdict: Though it has changed since its theatrical release for the DVD box, everything right down to the artwork on the poster of this cop flick points to a throwback to some of the hardboiled detective flicks of the 70's - think "Dirty Harry" and "The French Connection". While this film may not be a classic of that tall an order, thankfully the poster was not just window dressing. This film plays like those movies right down to its gritty, simple core. And thank God for that in an action movie these days. This is good, old-fashioned, straight-forward entertainment; no big tricks, special effects or political points, but not just a dumb shoot 'em up action movie either, it has a good plot, simple story, a clever script with good dialog, characters you care about and great action. And Bruce Willis is excellent as always, doing his usual hung-over, pissed off cop thing that we've seen in probably 10 of his other movies ("Die Hard with a Vengeance," "The Last Boy Scout," and "Hostage" all spring quickly to mind) and the movie is skillfully directed by Richard "Lethal Weapon" Donner, who knows how to make this kind of film, and make it well. The only beef I had with it, though I eventually came around, was Mos Def's annoying nasally voice. I don't know if as the movie went on he dialed it down a notch and made it less grating or if I just got used to it. Besides the voice though, the guy is a good actor and he and Willis make a good pair. The movie almost plays like a remake of Clint Eastwood's "The Gauntlet," which you may remember cast him as an alcoholic cop sent by his crooked superiors to pick up a witness they intend to kill, and expect the cop is too burnt-out to stop them or will just look the other way; but of course they underestimate his resolve big time. Both movies even end in a climactic scene with a bus. But that's okay. "The Gauntlet" was a good movie, "16 Blocks" is an even better one. It is an entirely watchable, great "airliner watching fodder" entertainment. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Alternate ending not seen in theaters (viewable separately or incorporated into the film)
Deleted scenes with director/screenwriter commentary
Theatrical Trailer