Jack Mosley is a down on his luck cop, he is sad and lonely and on top of that he has a drinking problem. He spends his nights drunk and his days bungling his job and turning up late. On one less than unusual morning while trying to make a quick escape home Jack is asked to travel down to another precinct and pick up a criminal and take him to the courts. Although Jack declines the offer weight is put on his shoulders to such an extent he really has no choice but to go.
Waiting at the other precinct is Eddie Bunker, a simple man (and when I say simple he has a learning disability) with a string of small convictions. But today something is different; Eddie has some information which must get to the courthouse a mere 16 blocks away.
Once on the road back the temptation for Jack to get a bottle of Jack Daniels is just too much, as the traffic builds up Jack pulls in and heads for an off license. While inside Eddie has attracted some less than desirable behaviour and finds himself at point blank range from a pistol, the only thing separating them is a window. Jack although a little worse for where leaves the off license and with excellent precision eliminates Eddies potential assassin.
Through a series of quick and bizarre situations Jack discovers that Eddie has some evidence on police corruption. And for once Jack is going to do the right thing and help Eddie to deliver this information; however with the entire police force against them and a 16 block journey on foot it’s not going to be as easy as it may sound.
Bruce Willis …. Jack Mosley
Mos Def …. Eddie Bunker
David Morse …. Frank Nugent
Jenna Stern …. Diane Mosley
Casey Sander …. Captain Gruber
I can’t lie, when 16 blocks turned up I thought “oh god, a Bruce Willis film and another tiresome rapper cum actor.” I actually put off watching 16 blocks for four weeks before finally submitting defeat and watching it; was I pleased with my viewing? You bet I was.
First thing to point out about 16 blocks is that with the exception of the first 16 minutes the remainder of the movie takes place in real time, kind of like 24 but without the adverts. This means that the Director Richard Donner needs to make sure that the action takes place at a realistic and dramatic place. At times you think “well that happened too quickly” in respect of a scene where an army of police are on their tail, but then if you give it further thought and you realise that many of the police in the movie are corrupt from the bottom to the top, so yes they would be on their tales quickly.
The story is a really compelling one, which is very simple; but structured in such a way that you dare not leave the room in or look away from the television in the fear of missing something. In fact rather than doing what a normal person would do and pausing the DVD to go to the toilet I decided I was best to wait.
The two lead characters go through several sometime dramatic changes in their personality traits, when Jack Mosley first meets Eddie Bunker he won’t even acknowledge his existence. However after an incident in a bar, Jack realises that he is wrong to be so hateful and judgemental of the world. And the key word to associate with 16 Blocks is CHANGE. You see the characters views and perspectives change, not always in a positive way but they certainly change.
Hard for a man to admit I know, but I actually became quite sentimentally attached to the movie at one point I could almost feel tears welling in my eyes because of a combination of events unfolding before my very eyes. And believe me it takes a certain standard of film to get some sort of sentimental reaction from me.
In respect of the acting I’m afraid I have never been a fan of Bruce Willis, from 1980-1990 Bruce Willis in my eyes played one character and that is the character of David Addison from Moonlighting. It almost became a bit of a joke, that here comes David again (for those not in the loop Moonlighting was an early 80’s comedy cop show in which Bruce Willis was a complete cheeseball). I never saw anything different in Willis until Hudson Hawk, although undoubtedly not his greatest movie I actually enjoyed Willis in this part. Since that time Willis has gone through a dramatic transformation, almost as if he finally had gone to some acting classes. And if you think that Willis pulled a blinder in The Sixth Sense prepare for a big surprise. In 16 Blocks Willis has piled on the weight, physically aged himself and looks generally as if he is on his final days. In my opinion his portrayal of Jack Mosley is the very best of Willis, most importantly you very easily connect with him and no sooner have you understood the wider implications of the movies story, than you can realise why he has fallen so far.
Mos Def who I don not think I have ever heard of knocked out a magnificent performance; it’s so hard to picture Mos as a rapper. In fact you could easily believe that Mos is as mentally lacking as his character, which to me is how natural his performance was. You cannot help but bond with this character, and be blown away when a book that he has carried with such care is finally opened and its secrets revealed. If Jamie Foxx deserved an Oscar for Ray, then Mos Def deserves one for his role in 16 blocks. Its by far the best portrayal of someone with learning difficulties that I have seen since Hoffman starred in Rain Man. After watching this movie I will most certainly follow Mos Def’s career to see if he impresses me in other movies the way he has here.
As for the movies director Richard Donner what can I say? I know what I can say The Lost Boys, Lethal Weapon, The Goonies, The Omen Movies, and the moving Radio Flyer. That list of movies tells you all you need to know about Richard Donner he is a consistently achieving player in the movie industry and 16 Blocks is no exception.