16 Blocks (2006)

(In theaters, March 2006) There is something old-fashioned in this straight-up thriller by veteran director Richard Donner. The trailer may try to sell you an action film, but there’s little in the actual film to reflect that: Much closer to traditional crime thrillers, 16 Blocks even indulges in a considerable amount of character development between its leads, a burnt-out useless cop (Bruce Willis), and an annoying criminal (Mos Def). There are few highlights in the film, but on the other hand it’s solid throughout its entire duration (with a number of third-act slip-ups) and doesn’t waste the elements in hand. Willis is especially solid as a terminal case seeing a last chance at redemption; it’s great good fun to see him go one-on-one with David Morse. There isn’t anything particularly memorable about this film, but it doesn’t matter as much as you’d think: at a time where even solid thrillers are rare, this isn’t bad at all.

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