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Richard Donner
Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse
Writing Credits:
Richard Wenk

An aging alcoholic cop gets the task of escorting a witness from police custody to a courthouse 16 blocks away, but chaotic forces work to prevent them from making it in one piece.

Box Office:
$55 million.
Opening Weekend:
$11,855,260 on 2706 screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby 5.1
German Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 10/10/2006

• Alternate Ending with Commentary
• Deleted Scenes with Commentary
• Trailer


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16 Blocks [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 17, 2020)

2006ís 16 Blocks featured two guys in need of a hit. Director Richard Donner and actor Bruce Willis both found their careers far from their peaks at that time.

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 covered the bill for Willisís hairpieces.

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.

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, as 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, as 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, as 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 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 Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus C

16 Blocks appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. One of the earliest Blu-rays, the visuals showed their age.

Not that this became a bad presentation, but it lacked the precision we expect from the format. Overall definition seemed pretty good, though interiors tended to veer a little soft.

No issues with jagged edges or moirť effects, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also failed to appear, but the image leaned toward a somewhat ďdigitalĒ look.

Blocks sported a cool palette that befit its gruff urban setting. The Blu-ray tended to make these gray-blue tones feel bland and dull. In addition, facial textures veered toward a clammy impression.

Blacks were a little too dense, while shadows tended to appear fairly smooth, albeit with a bit of heaviness at times. While this remained a more than watchable image, its dated origins made it less than impressive.

Overall, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of 16 Blocks seemed good, and 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. This became a pretty solid mix.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Both offered identical audio, which forced me to knock down the Blu-rayís grade, as I always do when these discs lack lossless soundtracks.

I strongly suspect the DVD and the Blu-ray shared the same transfer, so changes depended on the format. Despite the fact the Blu-ray seemed dated, it still appeared better defined than the DVD. An update would make this a more impressive presentation, though.

The Blu-ray replicates the DVDís extras, and in addition to the movieís trailer, we get some cut footage. The Alternate Ending (6:39) comes along with 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 Donner and Wenk 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, 51 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.

Note that although the DVD allowed the viewer to watch the ďAlternate EndingĒ reintegrated into the film, the Blu-ray doesnít include that option. Or if it does, I canít figure out how to access it.

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 Blu-ray offers dated visuals along with pretty good audio and minor bonus materials. This turns into a

To rate this film visit the original review of 16 BLOCKS

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