1. "16 Blocks" has only two dead bodies, a smattering of gun shots and nary a single car chase to be seen. In this world, where the likes of Jack Bauer see upwards of eight people die in an hour, that is pretty impressive for an action movie.
2. The film is a tightly-made drama under the mask of an action film. Since when did an action film with a black/white duo let the black guy spew anything but cliché lines about how he "be from the ghetto" or some obscene observations about something being "whack"? When does the action ever take a back seat to two actors having a conversation for five solid minutes? When is an over the hill, over weight, alcoholic, corrupt NYC cop our hero?
3. It was a good bet that a different type of action film was going to come from two men who defined the genre: Bruce Willis, in the quintessential "Die Hard," and director Richard Donner, who helmed the "Lethal Weapon" series.
4. The divergent approach is apparent from the opening scenes, as Jack Mosley (Willis with graying hair, sunken face and a prosthetic belly), a beaten cop near the edge of collapse, gets the simple assignment of transporting Eddie Bunker (Mos Def, speaking in a highly annoying voice) from his jail cell to the court house located 16 blocks away.
Unfortunately for Mosley, Bunker is the target of some corrupt cops led by Frank Nugent (David Morse, reaffirming he is not as nice as we think). Mosley rescues Bunker and then has only a few hours to get him to the courthouse.
5. In the space of just 16 New York City blocks, Mosley and Bunker face most of the NYPD, take part in a clever bus hijacking scene and deliver an impressive amount of dialogue for an action film.
6. The film is one of the best-acted of the new year, with three top notch actors delivering performances that are sure to be remembered. Hopefully, this will move Def (is that his last name?) into more serious roles and away from the likes of "Hitchhikers Guide."
7. Willis is at his best as he seamlessly transforms from a limp-wristed paper-pusher to a somewhat upright cop. While there's no reason given for his change of heart, there is something in Willis's performance that makes explanation unnecessary.
8. Near the end, Willis and Morse have a heated argument at gun-point over the importance of the truth that rivals the classic one from "A Few Good Men."
9. Def plays what would have been a cliché role, but his treatment is subdued. Instead of becoming annoying, he offers a believable character.
10. Characters have quirky charm: Bunker hopes to one day open a bakery.
11. Together, Willis and Def make an enjoyable yet challenging on-screen duo somewhere between one found in a buddy movie and one in a serious drama. What is more important than Bunker and Mosley comically arguing is how the two affect each other personally. That makes the film emotionally real and raw.
12. No forced romance. The filmmakers realized there was no space or need for it. While there are references to a lost love, it never becomes a sub plot.
13. The use of New York's streets gives the film a gritty feel of being in a small space — even though the entire film is out in the open.
14. Morse is an interesting and conflicted villain. You are never sure what his next move will be; for that matter, you're not sure what Willis's next move will be, either.
15. There are still some laugh-out-loud, clever buddy cop one liners. Willis's "you're killing me" is perfectly timed and delivered. The movie doesn't forget its roots.
16. Donner has done it again with "16 Blocks," redefined what we should expect from our action flicks. Great acting, restrained action, logical plots, and drama. The question is: will anybody listen?