Year Released: 2006
Directed by: Richard Donner
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse
(PG-13, 105 min.)
"It aint’t over ‘til it’s over." Yogi Berra
Don’t be misled by the snobby critics who turned up their collective noses at “just another predictable cop/buddy movie.” Masquerading as action picture, 16 Blocks is really the story of two outcasts struggling for self-respect, dignity, and perhaps a shot at redemption in their dead end lives.
And dead enders they definitely are. Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) is a burned out cop now reduced to mindless tasks, such as babysitting some deceased drug dealers until the crime scene investigators arrive. In reality, Mosley is not much more alive than the two corpses he keeps company; his shuffling gate the result of a gimpy leg and his 180 proof liquid diet.
The other dead ender is Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) a small time career criminal who is scheduled to testify at the courthouse some – you guessed it – 16 blocks from his current cell. Mosley’s job is to get him there. At first the only obstacles are the New York traffic and the steady stream of nasal jibber jabber that flows nonstop from Eddie’s mouth.
But there are darker forces working here. Although he doesn‘t know it, the guy Eddie is supposed to be testifying against is a corrupt cop, and his sworn statement could bring down a whole slew of bad boys in blue. They are not about to let that happen. When Jack makes a stop at the liquor store, he provides the perfect opening for their hired hit. But the old instincts are there, in spite of the world-weary frame, and Mosley’s Jack Daniels explodes on the pavement as he drops it and the hit man at once. He may look it, but Die Hard is not dead.
Still unaware that the cops are in on this, Jack and Eddie take refuge in a bar, where, of course, Jack is on a first name basis with the owner. He calls for backup and the first to show is Frank Nugent (David Morse), his former partner of twenty years. Nugent slides a bottle across the bar to Mosely and tells him to go home. They will take it from here. Mosely smells a rat, and Nugent reluctantly tells him the truth, clearly expecting his ex partner to go along with their plan to permanently seal Eddie’s lips. Despite the fact that in the not too distant past, Jack had been wishing for just that himself, he refuses to let it happen.
In the race that follows Jack Mosley is certainly the dark horse. The old nag not only has a bum leg, but he is seriously hung over and up against a very organized cadre of corrupt cops who have everything to lose if he and Eddie make it to the court house. However, what sets the film apart from others is not this nearly impossible journey, but what happens along the way.
First of all, there is much more character development than that provided in the standard quips of action movies. Short bursts of snappy dialogue in between gunshots are about as much as we usually get, as aptly demonstrated by Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The bullets in 16 Blocks are more often verbal than metal.
David Morse brings dimension to villainous Frank Nugent, almost a Shakespearean texture to the continued exchanges between himself and Jack. Time after time he keeps trying to bring Jack back to the dark side, reminding him that Eddie is just a career criminal, that Jack’s sacrifice to save him is not worth it. He rationalizes police lapses with an ends justifies the means logic that he genuinely seems to believe. No, he is no cardboard villain, which makes Nugent’s ultimate betrayal all the more painful.
Eddie has a stubborn optimism that is almost as grating as his nasal motor mouth. After all, hope is a little unsettling when you are perfectly content to wallow in the muck of your own depression, ever coaxing your liver to lethargy. Hoping to start a birthday cake bakery in Seattle, Eddie says a few other things that perhaps ruffle the feathers of the confirmed cynics who seem determined to take over Hollywood by squatters’ rights. He talks of life having meaning – watch out, Woody - and he keeps seeing Signs – Hello, Mel Gibson – that his luck is about to change.
Seasons change, argues Jack, but not people. So an irresistible force meets an immovable object. As the two trade life philosophies among ricocheting bullets, the helter-skelter of a Chinatown kitchen, and the dark recesses of New York’s tenements, we ultimately learn the answer. It may surprise you.
As we mentioned earlier Eddie’s dream for a new life centers on a birthday cake bakery he hopes to open in Seattle. What could be a better symbol for starting over again!
Growing up in multiple foster homes, it seems Eddie has lost track of his DOB. The closest thing he has to official papers are the many cake recipes he has chronicled in a small checkered book that he keeps stashed in his rear pocket.
One of his favorites is a strawberry cake. I hope Eddie would approve of ours.
Scrumptious Strawberry Cake
- 1 box white cake mix
- 1/4 cup flour (sifted)
- 1 box (3 ounce) strawberry gelatin
- 4 medium eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- red food coloring
- 1/2 cup strawberries cut up (or frozen strawberries thawed)
Mix together the cake mix, flour, gelatin, eggs, water, and oil. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth. Add a few drops of red food coloring.
Next add strawberries and beat for another minute or so until well mixed. Pour into two greased and floured 9X2 inch round baking pans. Bake at 350F (175C) degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.
Top both cakes with vanilla frosting. Add a few drops of red food coloring to the frosting to get a nice pink color. Place one cake on top of the other and frost the rest of the cake.
Decorate this strawberry cake with fresh strawberries, candied hearts, or sprinkle it with a colorful topping.
Thick Vanilla Frosting
- 1 cup shortening
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
- 4 tablespoons milk
Beat together shortening and vanilla for 30 seconds medium speed with an electric mixer. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar a bit at a time while beating. Then add 2 tablespoons milk. Slowly add in the rest of the powdered sugar and the rest of the milk until you get the right thickness for your frosting.
Recipe Source: Easy Kids' Recipes