Of all the pleasures that movies can offer us, none may be as simple or as pure as watching characters we like run for their lives. 16 Blocks, the latest film from longtime action-hack director Richard Donner, has that kind of elemental grace to it – even if it doesn't have much else. Burnt-out, alcoholic, pot-bellied, limping and wheezing, New York Police Department Detective Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) is finishing up a night shift that was uneventful at best and, at worst, just another 8-hour span of time in his ongoing slow-motion suicide. Desperate to get out of the building, get a drink and get some sleep at the end of his shift, Jack instead is handed the last-minute short-straw gig of escorting a witness over to the courthouse.
The witness is Eddie Bunker (Mos Def), a nervy chatterbox who's spent half his life in jail – you'd call him a career criminal, but the fact is he hasn't made much of a career out of it. Eddie speaks nonstop in a wheedling, agitated, nasal singsong that makes you kinda want to kill him; the fact that Eddie's testimony this morning will put a ring of crooked high-ranking cops in jail for a long time makes them definitely want to kill him. The grand jury stands down at 10:00 am, less than two hours from now. The courthouse is – you guessed it – 16 blocks away. And Jack Mosely's simple task is going to get a lot more complicated, especially when his partner of 20 years, Frank Nugent (David Morse), is revealed as the top man of the corrupt cops.