16 Blocks


Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 34
  2. Negative: 2 out of 34

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Critic Reviews

  1. A helluva lot happens in 16 Blocks - an outrageous amount, really, along with a coda that deposits the audience squarely at a movieland finale. Who knew that looking both ways before crossing is where the real action is?
  2. As good as Willis is, he's no match for Mos Def.
  3. 80
    This is some of the best filmmaking ever done by director Richard Donner, a longtime Hollywood journeyman known more for his proficient deployment of three long-running movie franchises (The Omen, Superman and Lethal Weapon) than for his lyricism.
  4. Mr. Willis has always been an acquired taste, but for those who did acquire that taste, riding shotgun on his good times and bad, it's a pleasure to see him doing what comes naturally.
  5. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    A mismatched-buddy movie that's endearing, funny and affecting in equal measure.
  6. 80
    A ticking clock scenario and a terrific performance by Willis as an alcoholic NYPD detective make up for the film's occasional missteps and some strange pop culture references.
  7. 80
    Def and Willis are both good, but Donner's lethal weapon here is Morse, a chronically overlooked character actor whose combined tenderness and ruthlessness make him the most fascinating heavy since Robert Ryan.
  8. Mos Def makes it work. It's a truly daring piece of acting because it skirts racial stereotyping and is so out of key with everything else in the movie. But that's just why it is so good.
  9. 75
    The bedrock of the plot is the dogged determination of the Bruce Willis character. Jack may be middle-aged, he may be tired, he may be balding, he may be a drunk, but if he's played by Bruce Willis you don't want to bet against him.
  10. A throwback to an age when action movies had room between shoot-outs and car chases for dialogue - real dialogue, not rim-shot-ready one-liners - and character development.
  11. 16 Blocks is a burger movie, served by an old pro: 76-year-old director Richard Donner, who hasn't done work this interesting since the other Bush was president but who knows his way around a thriller.
  12. Richard Wenk's script, taut and enjoyable, pays homage to those police procedurals, with a nod to the Brazilian hostages-on-mass-transit documentary, "Bus 174."
  13. 75
    Achieves the odd distinction of being the first post-9/11 NYPD corruption movie - complete with a shootout in the Criminal Courts building. Cool.
  14. Although much of the plot defies credulity, Richard Donner directs the odd-couple action drama with a nimble facility that draws viewers in.
  15. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Not that it ever rises to the level of Sidney Lumet's Gotham police pics ("Serpico," "Prince of the City"), but 16 Blocks does raise the banner for the tradition of the textured urban cop drama, spurred by action but made substantial by characters at crossroads.
  16. A happier surprise is the smart work of director Richard Donner: 16 Blocks is all jumble and jangle--crowds, snarled traffic, and discordant car horns. The scariest moments have no music.
  17. 70
    This is a sturdy little cop thriller, and even when it stretches the bounds of plausibility, you go with it, partly because you believe -- almost against your better judgment -- in what the characters are doing.
  18. 70
    Thanks to a compact story and some economical direction, it actually ends up better than it has any right to be.
  19. 67
    It's still just cops and robbers, but with Donner at the helm, it feels like so much more.
  20. Never quite transcends its origins as a high-concept action thriller, but the clean professionalism of Donner's direction, the low-key turn by Willis and the street-level heroics make it a satisfying piece of genre filmmaking.
  21. 67
    Has a sweaty, weary, often intimate feel, with the human aspect dominating the mechanistic. Donner can't help but push it over the top now and again, like a bodybuilder flexing his muscles when he spots a potential mate. But he contents himself with aiming for small virtues more often than grand impact.
  22. The action sequences that follow are routine to the point of monotony, involving chases through crowded streets and store fronts, a commandeered bus, a woman in peril, and so on. But Donner wisely devotes long spells in between to the evolving relationship between Jack and Eddie.
  23. 63
    It's unbelievably bland.
  24. 63
    Until Richard Wenk's script drives the characters into a brick wall of pukey sentiment, it's a wild ride.
  25. Reviewed by: Simon Braund
    A solid, bare-knuckle action-thriller.
  26. 50
    It's a cobbled together mess of clich├ęs that fails to surprise at any of its turns.
  27. It's a small movie trying to seem epic, or a bloated monster trying to seem lean (real B movies don't have 14 producers), but it's clear that at 99 minutes, 16 Blocks should've been at least 20 minutes shorter still.
  28. 50
    Richard Wenk's familiar screenplay laboriously establishes Willis as an exhausted, limping shell of a man rotting internally from decades of alcoholism and self-hatred. Yet whenever the film requires it, Willis magically morphs into a super-cop with the lightning-fast reflexes of an 18-year-old Navy SEAL.
  29. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Willis' performance mystifies, while Mos Def's mesmerizes.
  30. Another urban action thriller that's better than some, worse than most and so forgettable that it's possible to forget it while watching it?
  31. Willis never develops a rapport with Def, and in the end it's not the predictable action but this lack of chemistry and camaraderie that sinks 16 Blocks.
  32. No one can dismiss 16 Blocks as a mere formula flick -- it's a mere two or three formula flicks all fighting for top billing.
  33. It seems such a waste to go onto the actual streets of Lower Manhattan and shoot a movie this stupid. Think of the money, the logistics, the interruptions in the city's life -- all that trouble for what? For this? For shame.
  34. 25
    This noisy, formulaic film turns out to be immediately forgettable, except for the parts that are so ridiculous they leave you shaking your head in wonder hours later.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 226 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 51
  2. Negative: 8 out of 51
  1. Dec 10, 2012
    It hurts me to rate a Bruce Willis movie like this but there's no other fair score, it's a very dull movie I hope that it was made just to getIt hurts me to rate a Bruce Willis movie like this but there's no other fair score, it's a very dull movie I hope that it was made just to get a few bucks and not tough as a serious movie. Big disappointment, very predictable, 99 minutes that felt like 4 hours. Full Review »
  2. Sep 30, 2011
    "16 Blocks" is the usual buddy-cop movie with the decent action sequences. However its Richard Donner's top notch cinematography that saves the movie.
  3. Apr 20, 2016
    Bruce Willis looks particular bad as an unhappy aging cop with a drinking problem(drinking on the job! My My) who gets saddled with escortingBruce Willis looks particular bad as an unhappy aging cop with a drinking problem(drinking on the job! My My) who gets saddled with escorting witness Mos Def to a courthouse that is like sixteen blocks down the street. You might say, "That isn't far at all!", but some bad cops headed by David Morse make the going rough. And boy what do 16 blocks feel far.

    I had to blink for a moment to recognize Bruce for he looked thin and pretty sick with a white pasty face and red eyelids. For a moment he seemed at home as the rundown detective who gets through his day downing liquor and was expecting something of a reprise of his role in Pulp Fiction or Sin City. To commend Bruce, he does give it a try but unfortunately for him it isn't that kind of movie.

    While Bruce plays his role with verve the rest of the movie is something we have seen a gazillion times before. Which isn't bad really, but it would have been better if Bruce had been given something of a script that actually accommodates his role or they had settled for the action movie kind of thing and left that part out. Now it feels like the movie is flip flopping between the plight of a down and out cop and some silly action sequences.

    The movies does have some nice scenes involving Bruce and Mos when Mos learns Bruce that anyone can change for the better, but the Mos' role is maimed by the irritating nasal tone that someone has written into his character. As if someone wanted to undercut the character by making him talk silly.

    David Morse is a decent bad cop, but his role is so hammered shut that not even the greatest of actors could have done anything with it. The key scene is at the end when Bruce confronts Morse. How that works out I can't tell here, but it's isn't a pretty scene and what happens is totally unsurprising. I thought that Deus ex Machima were a no no nowadays.. but we get one in this movie.

    In the end the good cops that aided the bad cops get redeemed. Which is commendable, really. Not all cops are bad. At least: I hope not.

    The lowdown: despite the actors doing a good job, the story is just too much hampered by silly action scenes and some badly drawn characters. A pity really.
    Full Review »