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Is ’21 Bridges’ Based on a True Story?

November 21, 2019
5 min read

’21 Bridges’ is an American thriller movie that marks Brian Kirk’s big-screen debut, after working successfully on shows like ‘Game of Thrones‘ and ‘The Tudors‘. The basic premise is simple. Two cop killers go on the run after a drug deal turns sideways, resulting in the deaths of several officers in blue. As a result, detective Andre Davis is brought in. Played by Chadwick Boseman, everybody knows that Andre is the go-to guy to hunt down cop killers, and he always shoots first and asks questions later.

However, there is an ulterior motive behind calling in Andre. With already 7 shootings on his record, while on duty, even the IA (Internal Affairs) has a file on him. However, the chief knows that the corrupt police force has its hands in the drug deal, and they want to silence the two escaped shooters before more dirt comes to light. All this sets up the premise for a dark, cynical and slick film that ultimately falls on its face due to its half baked story. Upon watching the movie, you might end up wondering if this fantastical tale is actually based on a true story. We are here to answer all your questions about the true story behind ’21 Bridges’.

What is “21 Bridges”?

Firstly, where does the name ’21 Bridges’ come from? Well, Boseman spoke about it, saying that the film was initially titled ’17 Bridges’, but then the people involved got to thinking that there might be more bridges going in and out of Manhattan. Some research yielded the result that Manhattan has 21 bridges, and the closure of the same due to the citywide lockdown lends its name to the movie. An immediate question that might creep up is whether Manhattan has ever gone in lockdown mode.

To understand that you need to realize that a lockdown is technically an emergency protocol that prevents people and information from leaving an area. There are two types of lockdowns, preventive and emergency lockdowns. While the former is a preemptive measure to avoid any risk, the latter is done to avoid imminent danger.

Despite lockdowns being common in schools and campus spaces, especially with America’s rampant problems of gun violence, it is rather unusual for an entire city to go on lockdown. Sure, small towns might go into lockdowns to catch killers, but it is not feasible to lock down entire cities. Thus, cops opt to issue alerts or set up roadblocks to apprehend possibly fleeing suspects.

Some of the most severe instances of lockdowns have been after 9-11 when the American civilian airspace was on lockdown for three days. Historically, a city lockdown has happened not too many years ago in Boston. April 2013 saw the entire city on lockdown as the authorities hunted for suspects involved in the Boston Marathon bombing. As is evident, the conditions for a lockdown need to be as severe as a terrorist threat or attack. Moreover, a lockdown has to be initiated by a person in a high position of authority. Yet, Andre effortlessly convinces the mayor to close down all the 21 bridges. He even suggests that the island be flooded with blue.

Is 21 Bridges Based on a True Story?

Even if we make room for the possibility that Manhattan could be locked down to hunt cop killers, so they do not escape, ’21 Bridges’ does not even show the lockdown properly. It shows a few bars and restaurants being closed down on television, and not much else.

Even the city space, that is treated as the location for the crime and the hunt, is portrayed in such a fictitious manner that New York Post has reserved some scathing comments for the movie. One particular scene that is mentionable here is how the killer runs off into a slaughterhouse in the Meatpacking District. He is remarkably lucky in evading the cops, especially when New Yorkers will tell you there are not too many slaughterhouses left in the first place.

The next sequence is even more startling as the killer dodges bullets beneath the picturesque High Line, with the shadows of multimillion-dollar apartments looming over him. Remarks have been made sarcastically that perhaps the High Line is now a place where bullets fly as frequently as gelato is scooped!

In conclusion, ’21 Bridges’ is a complete work of fiction. The premise is fantastical and unlikely settings are used to tell a tale of crime and its consequences. However, that does not mean that the movie is not enjoyable. It is the kind of cop thriller that will make you sit on the edge of the seat as Boseman delivers a powerful performance. It is the kind of movie you can grow to love as long as you do not put too much thought into it.

Read More: Upcoming Chadwick Boseman Movies

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