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16 Blocks - action/adventure DVD review
16 Blocks rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse, Jenna Stern, Casey Sander
Director: Richard Donner   Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD release: 13 June 2006   Runtime: 102 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, Spanish, French), Audio Tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1; French, Dolby Digital 5.1), Alternate ending (viewable separately or incorporated into the film); Deleted scenes w/ director/screenwriter commentary, Theatrical trailer

So this flick written by Richard Wenk and directed by Richard Donner of Lethal Weapon fame might seem, on the surface, like your typical Bruce Willis action vehicle. But watching the aptly titled 16 Blocks proves that Donner is back on his game after 2003's abysmal adaptation of Michael Crichton's Timeline. This time out, everyone does a good job - and I do mean everyone. Bruce Willis plays detective Jack Mosley, a world-weary alcoholic assigned to transport a witness sixteen blocks. At the end of his shift, the last thing he needs or wants is another assignment. Mosley's expression speaks volumes: he is tired, worn out, beat-out-of-his-face, and needs a shower, shave, and about three days worth of sleep.

Mosley grudgingly takes the job of escorting Eddie Bunker to his grand jury hearing, but what looks like an easy job, isn't. After putting Bunker (who never shuts up for long) into a car for transport, Mosley's first pit stop is a liquor store. It's here that assassins attempt to murder Bunker in an effort to keep him from testifying at the hearing, and it is where all the hurdles to keeping Bunker alive begin. 16 Blocks becomes a chase movie, but a very good chase movie with a good character study and authentic performances. After escaping the initial onslaught, Mosley figures out that someone wants Bunker dead. He takes him to a bar on Mulberry Street where he calls his superior officer Frank Nugent (David Morse). But Nugent is the leader of the corruption within the department and the one who wants Bunker dead. Mosley gets wise to this scheme, and instead of going along with the corruption attempts to get Bunker where he is supposed to be.

The direction and pace are perfect for a film about a middle-aged, alcoholic detective on the run. When things slow down enough for dialogue to be exchanged, you don't get bombarded with shot after shot after shot; there is no frenetic hyper-direction or overuse of special effects in this flick.

Unexpectedly, I liked all the actors involved. Mos Def as Eddie Bunker brings a sweetness, even kindness to his character that gels well with burnt-out, dog-tired Jack Mosley. Though his nasally voice might grate after awhile, Mos Def makes Bunker a three-dimensional character. David Morse, underrated in most of his performances, has real screen chemistry with Bruce Willis and fleshes his villain role out to be more than just cardboard. There is one scene that could have used some explaining (an attempt at misdirecting the audience that plays more confusing than clever), but overall the script and story build 16 Blocks up into a solid thriller.
reviewed by Bobby Blades
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