Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
The Perfect Night In
Great Movies From Warner Bros.
Subscribe To Empire
Sign up now and save up to 63%
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

Bruce Willis
Mos Def
David Morse
Jenna Stern
Casey Sander
Cylk Cozart.
Richard Donner.
Richard Wenk.
Running Time
102 minutes

Miss Julie
2 Star Empire Rating
Second Mother, The
4 Star Empire Rating
No Escape
2 Star Empire Rating
Ricki And The Flash
2 Star Empire Rating
4 Star Empire Rating

Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Mad Max: Fury Road
5 Star Empire Rating

16 Blocks
Bruce Willis grizzles afresh in this taut thriller

submit to reddit

Beaten-down, boozehound New York cop Jack Mosley (Willis) experiences a moment of moral clarity — and some heavy gunfire — while escorting no-mark prisoner Eddie Bunker (Def) across Manhattan for a curiously scrutinised court appearance.

16 Blocks
Browse more images »

There are a number of good things in this taut, effective tale of
a grizzled NYPD burn-out (Bruce Willis) attempting to chaperone an annoying dweeb (Mos Def) across the titular distance without either of them getting their heads blown off. First, in its well-sustained ticking-clock suspense and explosive yet restrained action sequences, 16 Blocks provides clear evidence of a return to form for director Richard Donner, seemingly a spent force given most of his post-Lethal Weapon oeuvre.

Second is Willis, who, gratifyingly, has grasped the fact that audiences will continue to tolerate ageing action stars only if they accept the ravages of time with good grace, embrace their newfound crustiness and realise that just because they’re playing a ‘character part’ doesn’t mean they can’t still kick ass from time to time… Just as long as they throw us a little Danny Glover-style “I’m too old for this shit” self-deprecation along the way. Thus, with his gammy leg, crisis-point hairline, fried-egg eyes and dyspeptic conscience, Willis’ turn is his most
credible performance in years.

Third is a satisfying answer to the question, “What the hell happened to David Morse?”, that most dependably stable
of supporting players who appeared to have taken a powder after 2000’s crappy kidnap thriller Proof Of Life (not that anyone would blame him if he had). He’s back with a vengeance here as the kind of menacingly soft-spoken career cop, cancerous with corruption, that no gritty policier worth its salt can live without.

Then there’s rapper-turned-actor Mos Def, proving his chops yet again by opting for a character interpretation that, initially, stirs uncomfortable memories of Adam Sandler in Little Nicky but which, against the odds, grows on us as inexorably as it does on Willis’ worldweary curmudgeon — quite a feat, as anyone who saw Little Nicky will confirm.

But above all, this movie’s appeal rests on its not overreaching its grasp. You’d hardly call it a modest undertaking — another treat is the authentic Lower Manhattan locations, which don’t come cheap — but it has a sense of proportion. Donner is content to execute a twist on the buddy-cop formula, rather than break his neck trying to reinvent it. And in that, 16 Blocks goes the distance.

A solid, bare-knuckle action-thriller from Richard ‘Lethal Weapon’ Donner that avoids most of the genre’s clichés and boasts a commendably dishevelled performance from Willis, as a washed-up NYPD flatfoot dissolving in self-loathing.

Reviewed by Simon Braund

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for 16 Blocks
Empire Star Rating

16 Blocks Review

Despite strong performances from Bruce Willis and Mos Def, 16 Blocks is a shopworn entry in the buddy-action genre. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 10:04, 16 February 2012 | Report This Post

16 Blocks

Nice little thriller. Short but intense. Great chemistry between Willis and Def ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 22:12, 30 January 2008 | Report This Post

Better than Syriana. Cleverer too. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Silvertouch at 22:58, 15 August 2007 | Report This Post

Bruce's police thriller has the star on jowly, scowly form and Donner heading for retirement. Enjoyable ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 19:57, 01 February 2007 | Report This Post

Rahter avarage

It is an ok action/thriller in wich in my opinion Def out shined Willis not that Willis acting was bad more that Deff's acting was realy good. As for the movie in my opinion it's just one to many movie in his sort (Lucky number Slevin, Inside Man, A history of violence) i've seen over the last time, I know i shouldn't let this reflect on the movie but it automaticly does. For me the movie was just draging on with a few quick action sequences. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Madmax82 at 20:44, 14 December 2006 | Report This Post


! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mat Sansom at 13:59, 25 September 2006 | Report This Post

good fun movie ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MaxiHogea at 01:40, 19 June 2006 | Report This Post


Quite enjoyed this - decent enough thriller. Willis manages to look like shit throughout and pulls off the worn down cop routine. But what's with Mos Def's voice - nearly spoils the film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trueborndjross at 19:30, 16 June 2006 | Report This Post

16 Blocks

Went to see this film last night and I hate to say it but another average thriller. I thought Mos Deaths's accent was bit annoying. Nicely pace but a bit predictable. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Crazy at 10:14, 26 May 2006 | Report This Post

16 blocks

A nice little film this with Bruce Willis playing a less than generic hero who is conflicted between life and work. Not Richard Donners' best and no where near on par with the lethal weapon franchise but a more than average 'popcorn' movie with a nice little twist at the end!!! the only thing that really annoyed me was Mos Defs Stupid bloody accent!!! catch it if you can!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dragonINC at 20:19, 24 May 2006 | Report This Post

16 Blocks is a short way to go and a long time to get there.

16 blocks is a tightly paced action thriller from the director of Lethal Weapon. However even though this is a miss-matched buddy movie, with plenty of, "I've only got one day left till retirement" style shenanigans, this does not show any sign of the genres main weaknesses. It shows gritty and at times realistic restraint, where others fall into a giant Michael Bay shaped hole of spectacle and garish scale. The performances are realistic as is the slowly growing chemistry of Def and W... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Jackle at 13:37, 11 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: solid thriller

Gotta admit to also being a little put off by acter voice. At times it made it very difficult to hear what he was actually saying. And in a couple of scenes were Bruce was doing his world weary grizzled thing he also was fairly inaudible. And at one point I drifted off into altermate movie land where ksvehicle for the re-teaming of lte]Eddie Murphys started when they were in the Chinese dude's apartement and Eddie started to do a riff on the old man's shirts. This alternate movieland vi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JediBobster at 20:17, 08 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: solid thriller

I went into this movie not expecting too much I have to admit, which was fine because I was in the mood for a bit of harmless entertainment.   But I have to confess, I ended up quite liking it. Predictable for the most part, and a pretty straightforward storyline but likeable all the same.   Not particularly a fan of Bruce Willis, but I did enjoy the flip on his usual roles and I did begin to really feel for Eddie, Mos Def's character. Although, I agree that his voice was rath... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sway at 15:10, 08 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: solid thriller

Great little film ruined by Mos Def's voice!!! He sounded like a child holding it's nose! ... More

Posted by Ed Wood at 04:50, 06 May 2006 | Report This Post

solid thriller

This was not at all bad. Willis plays his washed up cop role very well, and the director manages to surprise us a number of times. Enjoyable. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 11:18, 05 May 2006 | Report This Post


i liked this film. i think in some places it draged but then what film doesnt? i guess the stars are fair, maybe i would given it 3 1/2. the story was interesting and i think willis gave a fairly understated performance. i didnt like mos def so much but at least he could act. ... More

Posted by bupesh at 09:45, 04 May 2006 | Report This Post

Found this quite sombre and low key - great first half with tension and nicely handled action. Went downhill from the hostage situation. Willis and Donner combination still make this an entertaining flick - just could've been even better. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by john Maclaine at 18:38, 03 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: Blockbusters

You can do a lot worse than 16 Blocks. It is a conventional and at times a predictable film but it is not a bad film and is perfectly watchable. What about that 'tache though.   *** ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lord of the pies at 18:29, 03 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: Blockbusters

Better than I thought it would be. Decent enough without being great - certainly worth a watch on DVD. Direction and acting pretty solid, and David Morse was great. Some of the plot points were made too obvious though. ... More

Posted by joemanji at 16:06, 03 May 2006 | Report This Post


Empire User Rating

Posted by quizkid at 16:04, 03 May 2006 | Report This Post

16 Blocks

Bruce Willis has played a lot of cops in his time, and at the start of ksks like the strain is finally beginning to show. When we first meet Lieutenant Jack Mosley, the character Willis plays in Richard Donner's film, he's about as far from the heroic, wisecracking John McClane as one could imagine. With a pronounced limp and a boozer's belly hanging over his belt, Mosley ambles his way into an early morning crime scene and, after searching the premises for alcohol, he slumps heavily into a cha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Philconcannon at 22:14, 02 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: Willis needs to shoot more and blow a few things up!

Pleasantly suprised to say the least, thoroughly enjoyed myself with this one, especially loved the 20 or so minutes of the film with the bus, never expected things to go that way in all honesty.   One major problem though, Mos Def and that ting voice he was putting on for the duration of the film, it seriously grated after a while. Why on earth he couldn't play the character straight I'll never know, someone behind the camera obviosuly thought it made him sweet and endearin... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by paulyboy at 17:13, 02 May 2006 | Report This Post

Willis needs to shoot more and blow a few things up!

Watchable, bit like the Gauntlet but with less action. Shame as there was some good moments with Willis looking good as an old man. Not sure about Def though. Why did the character have to sound retarted? It became quite annoying after a while. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gold Digger at 11:04, 02 May 2006 | Report This Post


Thought it was OK, but pretty average and certainly not a film I'd be in any hurry to see again. Mos Def gave a better performance than Willis IMO, although with the script they had to work with, neither were exactly stretched.    A lot of what went on has been seen many times before in similar (and better) movies, i.e. once Willis' character found the tape recorder you knew hings were going. So, while not terrible, I'd recommend maybe waiting for the dvd and hiring that if you ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Indio at 02:17, 02 May 2006 | Report This Post


it was a good action movie, bruce willis did well. the director over dit it in one sequence with the bus n hostages. ... More

Posted by Movie Dude at 20:43, 01 May 2006 | Report This Post

More user comments

Wes Craven: Film By Film
Empire celebrates the late, great horror director

My Movie Life: Andrew Haigh
The 45 Years director on the movies that made him

Vanity Projects: The Musical Edition
A dozen more hits and misses from the rock and pop world

Inside The Martian: Empire Meets NASA
Prepare to science the shit out of it...

Deadpool: A Complete History
Empire's guide to The Merc With A Mouth, in comics and on screen

Spectre – Everything You Need To Know
Empire's essential briefing on James Bond's 24th outing

The N.W.A-Team
Empire visits the set of Straight Outta Compton

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)