DUBBY’S DVDISCUSSION: Willis and Willis
Intelligent action buffs will love, 16 Blocks, which is how long it takes two diverse characters to find redemption through a riveting passage of many kinds of hell.
Cinema writer Jeff Shannon declares, “Director Richard Donner brings seasoned skill to 16 Blocks, a satisfying thriller boosted by intelligent plotting and the stellar pairing of Bruce Willis and Mos Def in quirky, well-written roles. Making the most of minimal dialogue, Willis plays Jack Mosley, a boozy balding ageing, disillusioned New York City detective who reluctantly accepts an assignment to transport squeaky-voiced chatterbox Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to grand jury hearing where he’s scheduled to testify against a group of corrupt, drug-dealing cops. They’ve got two hours to travel 16 blocks, but the dirtiest cop (David Morse) is determined to kill Eddie before he can testify; what he doesn’t know is that Jack (who is also under investigation) has had a crisis of conscience, and he senses something in Eddie’s seemingly innocent, optimistic demeanor that he wants to protect. Working from a tight, twisting screenplay by Richard Wenk, Donner turns familiar material into an efficient film that delivers tense urban action (like Donner’s earlier Mel Gibson hit Conspiracy Theory) while leaving plenty of room for Willis and especially Mos Def (in a critically acclaimed performance) to develop their flawed yet admirable characters. 16 Blocks may be an unusual thriller in many respects, but as a showcase for its appealing cast, it quickly rises above its generic limitations.”
At the beginning of the movie, the ageing hero says, “Life is too long.” The end is about finding out if you can do anything in that time. I think Lucky Number Slevin is cool, exciting and worth seeing twice. Says BBC’s Tom Brooks, “Lucky Number Slevin could be dismissed as well made, clever and superficial; the latter it may be, but there are some flattering conclusions. It is smart, with some great lines, one or two really memorable scenes, and if you can stay with it the story that has a surprising end that gives it overall a quite satisfying symmetry.”
And critic Ted Fry is spot on with, “How boring it is to label a movie Tarantino-esque anymore. The thing is, when it comes to an offering like Lucky Number Slevin, the shoe fits, and the result is anything but boring. Gruesome killings, arid wit, self-reflexive pop culture references, an A-list cast, and style-heavy production values abound. Josh Hartnett — who spends a lot of buffed-up time with his shirt off — is Slevin Kelevra, a hapless fellow visiting his New York friend Nick. But Nick has disappeared, which sets off a mistaken-identity thrill ride when two goons grab Slevin (he’s in Nick’s apartment so he must be Nick) and take him to their crime lord boss, the Boss (Morgan Freeman). The Boss doesn’t care about Slevin’s wrong-man protests; he just wants the $96,000 Nick owes him. In one of many offers he can’t refuse, Slevin has to agree to murder the son of the Boss’s felonious arch rival, the Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) or take the bullet himself. But Slevin turns out to be no ordinary patsy. Thrown into the ingeniously designed production, clever plot twists, and academic nods to Bond, Hitchcock, and obscure old cartoons are Lucy Liu as a sexy coroner, Stanley Tucci as an obsessed cop, and Bruce Willis as a wily hit man with his finger in many pots. With so much visual and narrative trickery, there’s almost too much to absorb in one viewing of this convoluted jigsaw puzzle of revenge and entertaining mayhem.”
Like I said, see it a second time.