It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Bruce Willis plays Jack Mosley, a tired drunk, in "16 Blocks." He's a detective who doesn't have the energy to be a cop. As the film opens, he's surrounded by dead bodies and spilled cocaine and is told by an officer, "Sit on this until the uniforms get here." Jack rummages around in the apartment until he finds what he wants: A bottle. He pours himself a drink and sits down to wait for the uniforms. The he goes back to headquarters, where the receptionist gives him breath mints.
Jack's shift is over. The last thing he needs is another job. But his boss assigns him to transport a witness 16 blocks to a grand jury hearing. The witness has to arrive in two hours, before the grand jury's term expires. Jack goes to get the guy, who is named Eddie Bunker and is played by Mos Def as a motormouth who talks all the time, and I mean all the time, in a litany of complaints about his treatment, his life and his fate. Eddie has the kind of voice that makes fingernails on a blackboard sound like Kenny G.
The job looks like a piece of cake. Put a guy in a car and drive 16 blocks. Jack can't make the 16 blocks. He makes a pit stop at a liquor store. Coming out, he sees the wrong kind of guy making the wrong kinds of moves on the witness in the car, and he shoots the guy, which is admirable decision-making under the circumstances. He figures out someone wants the witness dead, and so he takes him to a friendly saloon and calls his superior officer.
Not a wise decision. Frank Nugent (David Morse), his chief, is the linchpin of a ring of corruption and drug dealing within the department. He is one of the people who wants to prevent Eddie Bunker from testifying. Jack knows this. He's wise to the crooked cops because he's one of them himself. But there's something about Eddie Bunker, something about his innocence, something about his naive trust in Jack, something about the way he won't shut up, that somehow gets to Jack. Just when Eddie is about to be killed in the bar, Jack shoots a cop and saves Eddie's life. Now they are both on the same side of the law.