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Richard Donner
Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse, Jenna Stern, Casey Sander, Cylk Cozart, David Zayas, Robert Racki, Patrick Garrow
Writing Credits:
Richard Wenk

For a New York cop and his witness, the distance between life and death just got very short.

New York detective Jack Mosley (Willis) is assigned to escort a petty criminal, Eddie Bunker (Def), from the precinct to the courthouse. But the 16-block journey becomes challenging when a man makes an attempt on Eddie's life. Jack calls for backup, but the one of the cops who arrives on the scene is the man Eddie is supposed to testify against. It looks to Jack as though it's not a crook who wants to silence the witness, but rather a crooked cop.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$11.855 million on 2706 screens.
Domestic Gross
$36.883 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 6/13/2006

• Alternate Ending with Commentary from Director Richard Donner and Writer Richard Wenk
• Deleted Scenes with Commentary from Director Richard Donner and Writer Richard Wenk
• Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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16 Blocks (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 2, 2006)

2006ís 16 Blocks features two guys in need of a hit. Director Richard Donner made his name with Superman and the Lethal Weapon series, but heíd faded. Of his four movies over the last 10 years, only 1998ís Lethal Weapon 4 managed to break the $100 million mark. 2003ís Timeline grossed a pathetic $19 million, and even the combined wattage of Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson couldnít take 1997ís Conspiracy Theory past $76 million.

And then thereís actor Bruce Willis. Now in his fifties, Willis hasnít headlined a hit in years. Not counting animated fare like Over the Hedge, 1999ís The Sixth Sense was his last flick to make more than $100 million. Recent efforts like 2005ís Hostage and 2004ís The Whole Ten Yards completely tanked.

Unfortunately, 16 Blocks didnít exactly bring Willis and Donner back to the top of the charts. It took in a weak $36 million, which just about covers the bill for Willisís hairpieces. I guess both men will have to hope for renewed success later, as Blocks failed to find an audience.

In Blocks, Willis plays burned-out, alcoholic old cop Jack Mosley. He gets a simple assignment in which he needs to escort a petty crook named Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) 16 blocks from jail to court where heíll act as a witness. After a long night, Jack just wants to go home, but he grudgingly accepts the apparently easy task.

Unfortunately for both Jack and Eddie, matters donít go smoothly. Within minutes, they come under attack from guys who want Eddie dead. Jack soon finds out why. Eddie saw some bad cops and will blow the whistle on them. This group includes Jackís old partner Frank Nugent (David Morse).

Frank tries to convince Jack to turn over Eddie to him so they can dispose of him and get off the hook. Jack decides to make a stand and he takes Eddie under his wing to guide him to court. The movie follows their efforts to get there.

When I saw the previews for Blocks, I thought it had a lot of potential. The premise sounded reasonably promising, and it presented much room for tight, anxiety-provoking action. Add to that a good roster of talent behind it and the flick should have been a winner.

Unfortunately, it too often shoots itself in the foot. The film simply lacks the requisite tension to work as a thriller. I donít mind that we quickly learn about the forces arrayed against Jack and Eddie. That factor should add drama since we can appreciate the long odds against which our odd couple battles. Basically the entire New York police force comes at them, whether wittingly or not.

Somehow Donner manages to almost totally eliminate the tension, though. Part of the problem comes from all the tricks he uses. Blocks feasts on red herrings. Donner presents one false move after another, and they quickly lose any form of effectiveness. From early in the film, we learn not to trust what we see, and that means that potentially dramatic scenes fall flat. We know that nothing special will happen, so we donít invest in them.

Attempts to develop camaraderie between Jack and Eddie feel forced. They become pals because thatís the kind of movie this is. Defís odd performance doesnít help. He channels Ratso Rizzo in a quirky, self-conscious turn. I think Def is arguably the most talented rapper-turned-actor out there, and with roles in varied flicks such as The Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy and The Woodsman, he certainly shows much greater range than I ever expected. However, I donít know why he decided to make Eddie such a cartoon, as this renders the character annoying from start to finish.

The filmís main problem remains its lack of excitement. It tosses out the sporadic action scene but never really invests in them. Combine that with the ways in which the movie seems to go out of its way to telegraph elements and 16 Blocks ends up as a lackluster effort.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

16 Blocks appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. All in all, this was a terrific transfer.

Sharpness seemed immaculate. At all times, the movie came across as crisp and distinctive. If any softness occurred, I failed to notice it. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering popped up, and source flaws were completely absent.

Blocks sported a cool palette that befit its gruff urban setting. The DVD replicated the hues well. They seemed clear and accurately recreated. Blacks were dense and dark, while shadows appeared smooth and well rendered. I found nothing about which I could complain in this solid visual presentation.

In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of 16 Blocks seemed very good. The soundfield created a nice sense of environment. It gave us a fine feeling for the city locations and opened up well during the action sequences. Those allowed gunfire and other elements to pop up all around us and form a strong three-dimensional impression. Music also displayed positive stereo imaging, and some directional speech appeared on a few occasions.

Sound quality was solid. Dialogue seemed natural and crisp, and I noticed no edginess or other issues. Music was brassy and detailed, while effects showed good delineation. They boasted clean highs and strong lows. Though the mix failed to pack enough of a punch to merit ďAĒ-level consideration, it suited the film and earned a strong ďB+Ē.

Unfortunately, the DVD skimps on extras. In addition to the movieís trailer, we get some cut footage. The Alternate Ending can be viewed on its own or reincorporated into the film. If you watch it solo, youíll get some remarks from director Richard Donner and writer Richard Wenk. They give us a little information about how this was the ending they intended to use, whereas the one in the film is the one that was written. They donít really relate why they made the change.

As for the scene itself, it allows one of the baddies to redeem himself, but it finishes the film on a much darker note. Although I often like downbeat conclusions to flicks, I prefer the ending for the theatrical cut. It fits the rest of Blocks better.

We also find a collection of eight Deleted Scenes. Weíre forced to watch these with commentary from Donner and Wenk. We canít deactivate their remarks, which means they talk over the sequences. Who made that choice and why? At least they provide good details. Along with some funny cracks, we find out why each of the pieces fell to the cutting room floor.

The eight scenes last a total of 19 minutes, 45 seconds, though some of that time comes from shots of Donner and Wenk as they introduce the pieces. While the ďAlternate EndingĒ provides a stark change, the deleted scenes mainly expand existing sequences. We get a lot more of Eddieís rambling here, as many of the clips provide his thoughts on life and his past. We also see another chase, a quick intro to some baddies, and a goofy escape. None of these scenes does anything for me. Theyíre all superfluous and were good cuts.

Chalk up 16 Blocks as a flick with real potential that doesnít go much of anywhere. The movie relies on cheesy gimmicks instead of true cleverness and never manages to turn into anything tense or memorable. The DVD offers excellent picture and audio but skimps on extras. Give this one a rental if it really interests you. Otherwise Iíd skip it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3636 Stars Number of Votes: 11
2 3:
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