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16 BLOCKS This action flick stars Bruce Willis as a detective whose seemingly simple task of transporting a petty criminal (Mos Def) from the jailhouse to the courthouse is hindered by corrupt cops. 16 Blocks works as a throwback to the "B" flicks of yore, when an unflagging pace, a few dollops of humor and a couple of sharply etched characterizations were enough to justify a matinee ticket. Willis is solid, yet it's his co-star who really shines. Mos Def's part could have been a rehash of the sorts of characters we always see in this type of yarn -- Eddie Murphy by way of Samuel L. Jackson. Yet, given a leg up by Richard Wenk's scripting, he heads off in a different direction, portraying his character not as an impertinent braggart held prisoner by his own inflated sense of macho posturing but as a sensitive, soft-spoken guy whose eternal optimism allows him to remain grounded by his faith in his own abilities. ***

OPENS FRIDAY, MARCH 24:

ASK THE DUST: Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek.

CSA: CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA: Evamarii Johnson, Larry Peterson.

INSIDE MAN: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen.

TRISTAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY: Steve Coogan, Shirley Henderson.

TSOTSI: Presley Chweneyagae, Terry Pheto.

WHY WE FIGHT: Documentary.

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