Tuesday, February 11, 2014

1PanelReview 16 Blocks

Right off disappointing modern Die Hard films, allow me to review Bruce Willis movies that would make better Die Hard installments than Live Free or Die Hard.

This is it, probably the best non-Die Hard film that should have been a Die Hard sequel!

"Everyday is someone's birthday."

What it is: 16 Blocks

Which is: A crime/thriller film
Directed by: Richard Donner 
Year: 2006

16 Blocks is a 2006 thriller film directed by veteran Hollywood director Richard Donner to whom we owe such classics as Superman or the Lethal Weapon series, starring Bruce Willis as NYPD detective Jack Mosley who must protect Eddie Bunker, played by Mos Def, who is a witness that is going to testify against corrupt cops by the end of the day. But Mosley will have to face his long time partner Detective Frank Nugent, played by David Morse! The film is shot in real time, which add to the tension as our protagonists try to reach those 16 blocks...

What's Good about it: Where to start?!
It's a perfectly well executed and captivating thriller. Miles better from any sort of tension modern action try to reach for.
Willis plays here Jack Mosley, an alcoholic NYPD detective, at a point in his life where he has pretty much given up on everything.
There's a great chemistry between Bruce Willis and Mos Def, not that far from the portrayal of Samuel L. Jackson's uncooperative sidekick in Die Hard 3, which is so much better than what Bruce Willis had with the whitest guy ever Justin Long in part 4. When well used, a comedic partner can lighten up the atmosphere in such an heavy thriller film.
16 Blocks is such a simple pitch perfect scenario. Assigned this routine task of delivering a criminal to the courthouse, 16 blocks away, for a scheduled court session where he will be testifying against police corruption, things go really wrong in what should have been a 15 minutes job. Thing is, Eddie Bunker knows way too much for his sake. And Mosley is the kinda of man who doesn't believe people can change.
It's your typical wrong place at the wrong time-kind of scenario... with some twists!
The film features a great captivating score by Klaus Badelt. It really gives this film an edge in the more tense situations.
Great chases and tension until the movie turns into a hostage situation before picking up in yet another direction in the later third final act.

What's Bad about it: It's really hard to criticize. It's a masterful thriller in my eyes.
The hostage-bus scene does seem to drag a bit and stretch the film into another situation, but it's great timing for the movie's rhythm.
The ending is also a bit cheesy, but it originally almost ended on a downer note (see the alternate ending), before Donner & co realized how random this direction would have taken the film, what with the main villain suddenly changing motivations at the end after chasing our hero the whole film.

Overall: 16 Blocks is a fantastic thriller by Richard Donner. The man really shows how you can make a tight-plotted captivating well-executed picture! 

For me, it's the textbook definition of the "wrong place at the wrong time" scenario. It's as good as it gets... why wasn't this the actual DIE HARD 4!?! (it even picks up with an older alcoholic Bruce Willis New York City cop, tired of everything)

All the "thriller" tone that is seriously lacking in the new Die Hard films, now that they simply are only straightforward action films (how far have we come from the tension with Hans Gruber in the original opus).

And 16 Blocks also features what I consider the most important element actually missing from Die Hard 4 and 5. An actual veteran talented film director at his helm. Richard Donner proving himself not only a master but the perfect candidate for a would be-Die Hard film. As far as it gets from that dude that directed a bunch of Underworld films and that guy that made the awful Hitman film adaptation.
I give it: 3 / 3 Quacks!
[How does my Rating System work?]


  1. My daughter and I just watched this on Friday's snowday. It's been a favorite of mine for awhile and she LOVED it!! Excellent review!

    1. One of the better films Bruce Willis starred in years, for sure!