STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $28.98
RUNNING TIME: 102 Minutes
• Alternate ending not seen in theaters (viewable separately or incorporated into the film)
• Deleted scenes with director/screenwriter commentary

The Pitch

For the first time ever, Bruce Willis plays a broken down cop alone against high odds with a ton of people trying to kill him and, uh wait a minute…

"F#*kin’ Simon and his bullshit head games…got me running all over New York like a chicken with his ass on fire…I’m gonna rip him a new one when I see him."
"Yo man, you having some kind of flashback or something?"

The Humans

Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse, Jenna Stern.

The Nutshell

New York Det. Jack Mosley (Willis) is a beaten down, overweight, hard drinking cop with a gimpy leg and not much enthusiasm left for his job or much of anything else. One morning, after coming off a long night shift and being hung over, Mosley gets the unfortunate responsibility of escorting a witness, Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to the courthouse by 10:00 AM in order to testify before a grand jury. However, their trip is interrupted when two hitmen try to take Eddie out before Mosley kills one and gets them away from the other. When Mosley calls backup, he finds out that his colleagues on the force also want Eddie dead, because he’s going to testify about some dirty cops. One of them is Mosley’s ex-partner and friend, Frank Nugent (Morse). Rather than roll over on the kid and let Nugent waste Eddie, Mosley makes himself a target by protecting him. It’s not long before Mosley finds himself in the middle of an all out effort on the part of Nugent and the other dirty cops to kill Eddie at any cost before Mosley can get him to the courthouse, which is only 16 blocks away.

"Yeah, K-U-T-C-H-E-R. No, I don’t care whether it looks like an accident or not, I just want it bloody…"

The Lowdown

16 Blocks was mostly just okay for me (or in the words of Randy Jackson, “It’s was just a’ight for me, dog.”) I had to watch a good part of it twice because I got lost, both narratively and geographically. A lot of times I didn’t know where things were taking place, not being a New Yorker and all. It seems that Donner wanted to take us on a frenzied tour of the city without really showing us anything. I rarely had any reference as to where they were, where they were going or their progress. I felt like I needed some kind of GPS action going here. There was a scene where they were tracking Mosely and Eddie by a cell phone through Chinatown on a computer. More of that would have been nice. And as far as minor things thing like the story and the characters, I’m probably not the only one that got lost.

"So how come I ain’t never seen you at Def Poetry Jam?"

I dig the shit out of Bruce Willis as much as the next slob, always have, going back to his Moonlighting days. But I’m simply wondering how many more times he can get away with playing a broken down shell of a cop who suddenly finds religion of whatever sort that lights a fire under his has and leads to him blowing everybody else’s ass away. I know it’s his bread and butter, and I’ve been a regular consumer of that loaf of bread, but here he’s just rehashing a character we’ve seen more times than Rain Man could count. Jack Mosely is the amalgamation of John McClane’s street smarts, Hartigan’s determination, Tom Hardy’s drinking habits, and Joe Hallenbeck’s grooming habits. There’s nothing especially wrong with Willis’ protrayal, just that I’ve seen it before, several times.

"To say Hartigan freaked when he found out that the world had color was an understatement."

And Mos Def is another actor whose work I enjoy, but I almost wanted to switch to the French language track on the disc and read the subtitles because I couldn’t take his voice throughout this film. I wonder how he came to think that Damon Wayans’ wino character from In Living Colour would be a good model for Eddie Bunker, at least in terms of voice. I half expected Eddie to pick his nose and rummage through garbage cans while cracking one liners every time I heard him open his mouth. Nevertheless, Def is an effective actor and despite Eddie’s voice annoyances, I did find him to be an interesting character. Together Willis and Def did have chemistry, but the film was relying on it way too much during their Perils of Pauline misadventures in trying to cover a couple of miles of real estate.  Also, before signing off on this, need to acknowledge the work of David Morse as the villain, Nugent: a guy who doesn’t always get a lot of recognition, but is usually dependable for solid work to be put in.

"Yo, Mosely, (laughs) I’m only gonna be in town one day and I’ve got five stops to make (laughs)."
"You know I’ve got a gun don’t you?"

The Package

The video on this was fine (2.35:1), but the audio was low at times. I definitely missed some dialogue that left me hanging in places that had to be resolved with subtitles later. The cover art is passable. The special features include an alternate ending with intro commentary by Donner and writer Richard Wenk. There’s also a good feature of nearly 20 minutes of deleted scenes with video commentary in many instances with Donner and Wenk. This is good in that they offer a lot of film school explanations of why certain decisions were made.

5.9 out of 10