21 BRIDGES*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film opens with 13-year-old Andre Davis (Christian Isaiah) attending the funeral of his father, Officer Reginald Davis, who was killed during an attack by three men, two of whom he killed himself. The priest acknowledges Andre and says he sees much of Reginald in him.
19 years later, Andre (now played by Chadwick Boseman) is a detective with a reputation for killing criminals who kill cops. He carries his father’s legacy with him but also finds that to be stressful. He also frequently visits his mother, who is cared for by a nurse.
Later that night, criminals Ray Jackson (Taylor Kitsch) and Michael Trujillo (Stephan James) go to steal 30 kilos of cocaine from a rival drug lord. When they get there, they are stunned to find 300 kilos. After taking 50, the two are found by cops. Ray opens fire and kills a few before the two make their getaway. A squad car rams into them, leading Ray to kill those cops. More show up, and Ray kills them too before they get away. Michael is mortified by this, and Ray makes it worse by running a red light, capturing their image on camera.
Andre is brought to the crime scene with Deputy Chief Spencer (Keith David), where Captain Matt McKenna (JK Simmons) of the 85th precinct is there mourning the loss of his men and dreading breaking the news to their families. FBI agents Butchco (Obi Abili) and Dugan (Andy Truchinski) try to muscle their way into the case, which puts Andre on edge. McKenna brings in a narcotics detective named Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) to work with Andre. Knowing that the men behind the murders will be working quickly to get themselves out of the city, Andre requests that the agents contact the mayor to allow them to close off Manhattan until 5:00 AM to catch the killers.
Ray and Michael meet with their employer Hawk (Gary Carr), chastising him for not telling them exactly how much cocaine the other dealer was holding. Michael manages to convince Hawk to give them a million dollars each for their troubles.
The detectives track the license plate number of the criminals’ car to an apartment. They accost the couple living there until it’s made known that the woman, Leigh (Jamie Neumann), is the ex-girlfriend of the car’s owner, Toriano Bush (Louis Cancelmi), who brought Ray and Michael in. Leigh says Bush wouldn’t have killed the cops, but she identifies Ray as the perp, while Michael is the younger brother of Ray’s old army friend who was killed in Iraq. Their names and faces are spread over the news, which leads the men to realize they need a new plan to get out of the city.
Ray and Michael meet Adi (Alexander Siddig), who gives them new identities and directions on taking separate buses to Miami to avoid detection. A team of cops led by Lt. Kelly (Darren Lipari) start banging on the front door. When Adi asks what precinct they are from, Kelly shoots him in the eye through the peephole before they start shooting. As Ray shoots back, Adi lets Michael know about two flash drives, as well as the password for accessing them, and he succumbs to his wound.
Butchco and Dugan locate Bush in a nightclub. They alert him and barely give him time to react before Butchco shoots and kills him, claiming Bush drew his weapon on them first. Andre and Burns arrive at the scene, with Butchco instigating a fight with Andre that leads to Andre socking him in the face. Andre also managed to catch Butchco planting a gun on Bush.
The detectives track Ray and Michael to a building in the Meatpacking District. Andre catches Ray and gets him in a standoff. A civilian walks by, and Ray shoots him before Andre fatally shoots Ray. As he dies, Ray tells Andre that Michael is not like him. Andre and Burns then find Michael in the freezer, and he holds Burns at gunpoint. As Andre attempts to talk him down, Michael notes the suspicions involving the cops in the case, such as the deliberate omission of information regarding how much cocaine they were to steal, as well as how Kelly and his men just opened fire into Adi’s apartment without a word. Michael lets Burns go buy slips out. Burns scolds Andre for not shooting Michael when he got the chance.
Michael sneaks into an apartment and forces a man at gunpoint to let him use the computer to access the flash drives. There, Michael discovers documents of everyone involved in the drug ring, including cops from the 85th Precinct. He starts to make his way out of the building until he is spotted. The detectives hear the report and rush to go after Michael. He runs through the subway, with Andre running after him. After getting away from the other pursuing officers, Andre corners Michael in an empty subway car, engaging in another standoff. Andre convinces Michael to give up his gun, just before Burns shows up and fatally shoots Michael. With his last breaths, he discreetly slips Andre the flash drives. He meets with the other cops who congratulate him and Burns for catching the criminals. Andre pretends to need to use Burns’s phone and discovers she was in contact with the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative as he was earlier, which means she let Kelly get the drop on Adi and thereby implicates her in the whole scheme.
The following morning, McKenna goes home to find Andre sitting there with a gun pointed at him. McKenna admits to his guilt in the drug and money laundering ring, along with a few of the cops who were killed by Ray. His reasoning is that the cops deserved better pay and went into the drug business. Andre shows no sympathy, as the surviving criminal that killed his father claimed to be so high that he didn’t remember committing the murder. Moments later, Kelly, Butchco, and Dugan show up armed and ready to kill Andre. He kills Kelly through the window while taking out Butchco and Dugan in the House. Andre shoots McKenna and gives him a chance to surrender, but he fails and gets a headshot. Burns then shows up and aims her gun at Andre. He tells her that no matter what she does, he already copied the drives and exposed her and the other officers’ culpability. He reminds her that if she kills him, she gets life in prison and her daughter will grow up without her. Burns tearfully surrenders, and Andre escorts her outside to get arrested as other cops arrive.
The film concludes with Andre driving through one of the reopened bridges, finally able to go home.
Two criminals, Ray Jackson and Michael Trujillo, are involved in a drug heist that goes south fast when Ray kills a slew of cops. Detective Andre Davis convinces Captain McKenna of the 85th Precinct in Manhattan to get the mayor to close off the island to find the two crooks. Andre is also assigned to work with narcotics detective Frankie Burns.
The detectives catch the criminals, with Andre killing Ray, but Michael learns about the cops from 85th being involved in the drug trafficking ring. Before Andre can get Michael to surrender, Burns shoots and kills him.
Andre catches McKenna in his home and gets him to confess to his involvement. Two crooked FBI agents and the 85th’s lieutenant try to kill Andre, but he kills them and McKenna. Burns (also guilty) tried to kill Andre until he convinces her to surrender when she realizes her daughter will grow up without her. She is arrested and Andre finally goes home.