Willis stars as New York Police Detective Jack Mosley, a cop you wouldnt want watching your back in a life or death shoot-out. Hes lazy, unmotivated, and just taking up space until he can hang up his badge and collect his pension. About the only thing hes good for at this point in his career is pulling babysitting duty. Assigned to take a petty criminal named Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) from his jail cell to the courthouse 16 blocks away, Jack begrudgingly accepts the duty but not without putting up a fight.
Eddie needs to get to the courthouse and testify before the grand jury by 10:00am and that gives Jack 100+ minutes to complete a trip which should take about 15. But Jack, being the burn out he is, cant make the 16 blocks without popping into a liquor store only a block or so into the trip. Have I mentioned he's a loser? Emerging from the store, Jacks forced into action as the simple trip to drop off a prisoner turns into a 16 block fight for both their lives, pitting Jack and Eddie against the worst of New Yorks finest.
Jack and Eddie are polar opposites drawn together under desperate circumstances. What you expect to happen does happen, but because Donner is a skilled director and Willis and Mos Def work well as a team, 16 Blocks is saved from being a throw-away thriller.
And speaking of Mos Def, hes affected this indescribably bizarre nasally voice and its grating to listen to for 90 minutes (almost to the point of being unbearably annoying). In fact, the latest TV spot for the movie doesn't even include Mos Def speaking so that ticket buyers who haven't seen the full length trailers wont know what theyre in for until its too late. Once youre into the film, the voice isnt enough to make you want to get up and leave but its close.
At this point I feel like if Ive seen one weary cop who battles booze more than he battles bad guys movie, Ive seen them all. 16 Blocks doesnt so much break free of the mold but rather wraps itself up in the tried and true format and then adds a couple of special little moments so as not to be a total rehash of every generic bad guy seeks redemption film ever made.
16 Blocks is what it is. Its Bruce Willis doing a character were familiar with. Its Clint Eastwoods The Gauntlet but on a much smaller scale. Realism and logic play very small roles and shoot-outs can take place on crowded streets with minimal collateral damage and no real signs of panic. The saving grace is a superb performance from Willis combined with an interesting one from Mos Def, and enough action sequences to shove the film along when the characters and dialogue dont cut it.
"16 Blocks" was directed by Richard Donner and is rated PG-13 for violence, intense sequences of action and some strong language.