So last night my wife wanted to veg and watch a movie, because she’s had a long, hard week at work. Let’s see, what do we have from Netflix … hmm … looks like we have 16 Blocks and Ghost in the Shell. She already knows that 16 Blocks is a cop movie with Bruce Willis where “lots of people get shot”. She has never heard of Ghost in the Shell.
WIFE: What’s Ghost in the Shell?
ME: It’s a classic anime movie.
WIFE: Anime. <PITCHES VOICE REALLY HIGH> That’s where the girls all talk like this and giggle hee hee hee!!!! all the time.
ME: I don’t think Ghost in the Shell is like that … it’s a classic, like Akira and Cowboy Bebop.
WIFE: Mmm. We’ll watch 16 Blocks.
So now we know that although my wife hates cop movies where lots of people get shot (except for Running Scared, which she loved, but that’s a comedy so it doesn’t really count), she hates anime more. In goes 16 Blocks.
16 Blocks is of course the film in which Bruce Willis’s broken-down alcoholic guilt-ridden limping cop has to escort Mos Def’s oft-unintelligible (I had to turn on subtitles to understand all his dialog) witness 16 blocks to the courthouse so he can testify before a grand jury. He has to do this by 10am, or the jury’s term ends and the testimony becomes moot. Unfortunately, Bruce Willis is unaware that Mos Def is going to testify against some dirty cops, including Willis’s ex-partner, played by David Morse. If this reminds you a little bit of the Clint Eastwood film The Gauntlet (at one point, our heroes even end up on a bus, surrounded by heavily armed cops) then congratulations — you’re old!
All of this may sound like I’m dissing 16 Blocks, but I’m not. I actually quite enjoyed it. The performances from the three principals are excellent (anything with David Morse in it is worth watching), and in several cases where the film could have gone the Hollywood blockbuster route, it didn’t. 16 Blocks put my wife to sleep in about 45 minutes, which is rather astonishing for a film of this nature; not only that, but when she woke up, she was actually interested in how it ended.
A note about the alternate ending: It’s good to see that the filmmakers considered doing something a little unusual with the denouement, but unfortunately, the alternate ending just didn’t work for me. A big theme of the film is that people can change, but in the alternate ending, they changed a little too quickly for my taste. It’s still worth checking out, though.