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I’d Rather Look The Devil In The Eye

21 Bridges

Cast:     Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, Stephan James, Keith David with Taylor Kitsch and J.K. Simmons
Director:     Brian Kirk
Producers:     Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Mike Larocca, Gigi Pritzker, Chadwick Boseman, Logan Coles

Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch, Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller and Director Brian Kirk


-Anita Handy

“Go ahead. Make my day.”

“Yippy kiyee muthafucka.”

“I’d rather look the devil in the eye” is the new quote from 21 Bridges that you never knew you needed… until now. Its about facing fear and insurmountable odds. Every action movie has that one memorable phrase that gets you hype….that let’s know you know that the hero is not backing down and about to face something terrible; And of course, some asses are about to be kicked. 

[And] 21 Bridges is the action movie that proves to not disappoint. Car chases, gun battles, traffic…. This movie is all action from start to finish. 

Largely set in the ‘wee’ hours of the morning, 21 Bridges follows an embattled NYPD detective, played by Chadwick Boseman, who is thrust into a citywide manhunt for a pair of cop killers after uncovering a massive and unexpected conspiracy. As the night unfolds, he finds himself questioning who the real criminal is. Desperate to prevent the killers from escaping Manhattan, the authorities close all entry and exit points from the iconic island…hence, closing 21 bridges.

This movie will have you applauding the main character, Andre, for his heroism, integrity, and ability to maintain a level head both during shoot-outs, tense negotiations, and one confrontational administrative evaluation. In a time when shoot first, and ask questions later is ever present in our society, building in the character trait of being able to handle stress under pressure is especially imperative, and proves to be the type of police officer that we need in real life. 

Admittedly, as is the catch 22 with the action movie genre, there are some predictable moments, but the action is authentic. In preparation for this film, Boseman trained with LAPD and NYPD, studying SWAT tactics and targeting maneuvers. In addition, police were used as consultants on set, authenticating the realistic nuances of every dramatic scene. The cinematography of this film is ideal, with every scene boasting a unique camera angle and perspective that sets the mood, furthering the development of the story and thoroughly immersing you in the emotion of the moment. Spoiler alert – the foot chase scene between the main characters, Andre and Michael, will have you on the edge of your seat. 

With most action films there are two sides, and you root for the good guy…the classic antagonist versus the protagonist methodology. But sometimes, its not as simple as rooting for the good guy. For the old heads out there, remember in the 1991 action crime thriller film Richocet, when you rooted not only for Denzel, but somehow you ended up eventually rooting for IceT? Reminiscent of that enthusiasm, 21 Bridges will have you rooting for the good, and the bad guys.

Bullets, explosions, and car chases aside, 21 Bridges is a pivotal movie on so many different levels. While Hollywood churns out action movies in droves, how often do we see the main hero being played by someone of color? The tide is shifting in Hollywood. Boseman states “Our work is being recognized and you have to take advantage” of this time. 21 Bridges boasts not only one black main character, but 2. That fact is an undeniable selling point. Although this was a unique casting choice, it was not the original intent. Boseman stated that the role of Michael, played by Stephan James, was not initially written for a black man. However, as the script evolved Boseman advocated for hiring James for this dynamic, and surprisingly charismatic role; And quite frankly, Boseman and James play perfectly off each other. 

This shifting tide also has also yielded African-American’s not only serving in pivotal acting roles, but they are working in integral roles behind the scenes. 21 Bridges was produced by Boseman and Logan Coles, best known for his production work on “In Retrospect” and “Message from the King.” While Boseman gained considerable notoriety as an actor, he is no novice to the production game. At the 21 Bridges exclusive screening at Howard University, Boseman stated that his main focus while at Howard was film direction. “Being in front of the camera has never been my purpose. In this day and age. We can’t trust that they’re going to tell our story correctly.”

Stephan James, Director Brian Kirk, Sienna Miller, Chadwick Boseman, Producer Logan Coles, Co-Producer Malcolm Gray, and Taylor Kitsch attend the World Premiere of 21 BRIDGES on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at AMC Lincoln Square, New York, NY. STXfilms will release the film on Friday, November 22.
Photo: Dave Allocca for STXfilms

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