In the midst of an Internal Affairs investigation, Detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) is pulled into a citywide manhunt after two armed men gunned down eight police officers during a robbery.
Captain McKenna (J.K. Simmons), whose officers were the ones killed, assigns narcotics division Detective Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) to help Davis in this case. Knowing that time isn't on their side, Davis calls for drastic measures in hunting down the two gunmen by closing all 21 bridges and subway trains heading into and out of Manhattan, blocking the river routes, and flooding the city with cops.
Elsewhere, the two gunmen, Michael (Stephan James) and Ray (Taylor Kitsch), know that something is up with their botched job. They originally only planned to steal 30 keys of cocaine, but discovered 300, and now with eight dead cops they know they must act fast if they want to escape alive, and move quickly to cash out their stolen product.
Crime thrillers are about a dime a dozen on both the big and small screen, so it takes something truly special for one to stand out amongst the crowd. 21 Bridges had the potential to be just that on first appearance. Produced by Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo and starring a talented ensemble cast headlined by Black Panther's Chadwick Boseman, with a terrific tone-setting first trailer, the film had a lot going for it to be a big hit.
In many respects the film lives up to the promise. The cast is terrific from top to bottom. Boseman delivers what is becoming a typical dedicated performance, highlighted by his introductory scene where we learn everything we need to know about his character based on his demeanor and tone.
J.K. Simmons is always great in whatever role he's given and Taylor Kitsch continues to do solid work in supporting roles. However, the real standouts are Sienna Miller and Stephan James. Miller for her part is almost unrecognizable as Detective Frankie Burns. It's a role that feels against type for her and she owns it. James is also great playing the morally conflicted Michael, who is willing to do whatever it takes, but only when it's called for.
The action is tense and thrilling, and director Brian Kirk keeps audiences on their toes, emphasizing the urgency felt by all parties in this film with solid pacing. The film doesn't overstay its welcome, clocking in at a brisk hour and 39-minutes long, and at no point does it feel like it's dragging. The only downside to this is that we get the briefest of characterizations for our main cast. We're given just enough to understand each person on a skin-deep level with their motivations and what drives them, but very little beyond that. The main focus is uncovering the larger plot lurking beneath the surface.
Deleted scenes - Three deleted scenes that didn't make it into the film's theatrical cut.
Behind the scenes - Three-minute video giving audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of 21 Bridges.
Sound bites - Six-minute compilation of interviews done by the cast, discussing the themes and ideas the film presents.
Audio commentary - Feature commentary with director Brian Kirk and editor Tim Murrell, giving insight into the film.