16 Blocks has a brilliant premise, and when I saw the trailer I was so excited by it that I thought I might actually go out and see this movie at the theater. We go to the theater so rarely that this was high praise indeed. Lucky for me, I didn’t pay ten bucks to see it at the local multiplex. If I had, I would’ve have been extremely annoyed and perhaps even demanded a portion of my money returned.
16 Blocks stars Bruce Willis as an aging, creaky-kneed, alcoholic city cop who’s given the routine assignment of taking a criminal witness (Mos Def) from his prison cell to the city courthouse 16 blocks away to testify in a murder case. What neither Willis not Mos Def knows is that hit men have been hired to wax Mos Def in route and prevent him from ever reaching the witness stand. And that’s only beginning. Turns out there are dirty cops involved (naturally), and before we know it, Willis and Mos Def are runninng from the very people who should be protecting them.
With the exception of Mos Def’s nasaly voice, the first hour of this film is excellent. The scene in which the hit men strike while Willis is buying a bottle of booze is classic cop suspense. I loved it. And Lauren did as well.
But then, three quarters into the film, the situation becomes so implausibly stupid, that the entire movie pops like an over-inflated balloon. And what was so annoying about this gaping whole in the plot is that it could have easily been resolved. I mean, the answer was right there in front of us. Why the director and writer insisted on “the bus scene” (and you’ll know what I mean when you see it) still mystifies me. It was so utterly stupid and out of character that I actually laughed. Well, first I got angry; then I laughed.
After that, I couldn’t get back into the film. And the alternate ending, which thankfully wasn’t included in the film, was so headache-inducing stupid that I couldn’t understand why’d they’d even include it as an option on the DVD. It was like saying, Here, look how stupid we almost were.
Maybe they included it so we’d say, “Well at least they didn’t put THAT in the film.”
Which is too bad, really. Bruce Willis was great. This could have been a great movie throughout, but it wasn’t. It was a bummer.