ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Should I Watch..? '16 Blocks' (2006)

Updated on June 17, 2022
Benjamin Cox profile image

Benjamin has been reviewing films online since 2004 and has seen way more action movies than he should probably admit to!

Poster for the film
Poster for the film | Source

What's the big deal?

16 Blocks is an action thriller film released in 2006 and is the last original film directed by veteran action maestro Richard Donner, at the time of writing. The film is presented in real-time and stars Bruce Willis, rapper Mos Def and David Morse. The film concerns an alcoholic NYPD officer assigned to escort a petty criminal to the nearby courthouse and finds himself in a whole heap of trouble. Reviews were mixed when the film was released but the movie managed to take around $65 million against a $55 million budget. The screenplay was written by Richard Wenk who would go on to write The Mechanic and The Expendables 2.


3 stars for 16 Blocks

What's it about?

Jack Mosley is a washed-up, alcoholic NYPD detective who is suffering after working through the night. Despite this, he is assigned another case as he prepares to head for home - deadbeat petty criminal Eddie Bunker is destined for a date at the courthouse sixteen blocks away in order to testify in a police corruption case and he needs to be there by 10am. Without uniform around, Mosley reluctantly agrees and quickly discovers that Bunker is an irritating person to be around.

However, Mosley soon discovers that there are far more dangerous things than Bunker's inane chatter. A number of police officers want to see Bunker miss his appointment in front of the grand jury including Mosley's former partner, Frank Nugent. With armed officers attempting to assassinate Bunker and Mosley as well, the pair of them escape into the busy streets of New York on foot - and the clock is ticking...


What's to like?

The film certainly manages to gather the right ingredients together for an exciting thrill-ride. Willis is obviously an established actor star, ever since Die Hard launched him onto the A-list. But director Donner has pedigree as well, helming every one of the Lethal Weapon films as well as other action films like Assassins. With old hands, the film feels somewhat familiar but no less bombastic because of it - 16 Blocks is one film that knows how to deliver on the action front.

The film's simplistic storyline offers a few twists and turns along the way but the biggest surprise comes in the form of Mos Def whose performance as Bunker is probably one of the best of his career. Both he and Willis inject their fairly one-dimensional characters with depth and humanity and with Morse as the crooked cop after them, the film has a trio of engaging actors offering much more than the material suggests. The movie isn't particularly big or clever but it is entertaining enough to divert your attention for the duration.

Willis looks much more haggard than usual and actually does pretty well in the role
Willis looks much more haggard than usual and actually does pretty well in the role | Source

Fun Facts

  • In order to make his character's limp more realistic, Bruce Willis shot the entire movie with a pebble in his shoe.
  • As well as the parallels with the real-life Edward Bunker who turned his life around after leaving prison, the dialogue also references Chuck Berry as another example. Mos Def would go on to play Berry in Cadillac Records.
  • Willis originally wanted another rapper, Ludacris, to play the part of Eddie Bunker. Ludacris would instead go on to reprise his earlier role of Tej Parker in the increasingly successful series of Fast And Furious films in Fast Five.

What's not to like?

Unfortunately, the film suffers from being almost completely forgettable. Despite the competent direction and confident performances from the three leads, the film never seems to stay in the memory for very long and lets itself down in other areas. The supporting cast are pretty anonymous with Stern in particular making no impression on viewers at all. And despite the strength of character shown by the leads, I struggled to invest myself in the picture. Yes, it's entertaining but it isn't distinctive enough to stand out from other films of this type.

While this might sound harsh, I also struggled to see why the film's budget went. The story is basic enough to bypass enormous set-pieces and yet, the film still tries to offer the viewer something to wow them. Nothing wrong with that but the practicality of trying this undermines the effort. Take the scene with the crashed coach bus, laid under siege by Morse's men. I just felt that it slowed the film's pace right down and the film needed pace, given that it was supposed to be against the clock. It's an OK film but in truth, I somehow expected more given the amount of expertise behind it.

The character Eddie Bunker was named after the real-life criminal-turned-actor who appeared in "Reservoir Dogs"
The character Eddie Bunker was named after the real-life criminal-turned-actor who appeared in "Reservoir Dogs" | Source

Should I watch it?

16 Blocks is a curious film, being neither explosive enough to sit alongside the big boys of the action genre while still being better than many B-movie offerings. Willis and Mos Def make a decent pairing and perhaps give the threadbare script more attention than it demanded. I just wanted the movie to grab me by the scruff of my neck and hurl me into a white-knuckle thrill ride in downtown New York. Suffice to say, my breathing remained constant throughout.

Great For: lad's night in, undemanding action fans, overweight and middle-aged men

Not So Great For: short-term memory, CV highlights, the reputation of the NYPD

What else should I watch?

Personally, I'd rather stick with Donner's Lethal Weapon series and Lethal Weapon 2 in particular because that was the best one. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are a timeless combination and give the films a real comic buzz between them, despite the film's excellent action scenes and the storyline giving both men time to shine. Assuming that you're fed up with me recommending Die Hard for action fans - which is like me recommending breathing, quite frankly - then Willis still has plenty to offer and not just for those who enjoy a shoot-out. His performance in Pulp Fiction revived his career and demonstrated that he wasn't just a handsome stuntman while his acting abilities were further praised after The Sixth Sense.

Of course, nothing lasts forever and the longer Willis' career goes on, the more misfires he seems to generate. He hasn't had a decent outing as John McClane since 1995's Die Hard With A Vengeance while his attempts at comedy fall flatter than a punchline at the gallows. With recent turkeys like Cop Out and forgettable filler like Precious Cargo, viewers are advised to approach more recent Willis movie with a certain degree of caution.

Main Cast

Bruce Willis
Det. Jack Mosley
Mos Def
Eddie Bunker
David Morse
Det. Frank Nugent
Jenna Stern
Diane Mosley
Casey Sander
Capt. Dan Gruber

Technical Info

Richard Donner
Richard Wenk
Running Time
102 minutes
Release Date (UK)
28th April, 2006
Action, Crime, Thriller

© 2017 Benjamin Cox


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)