Hollywood hates cops: ‘21 Bridges’ based on myths


Illustration by Kathleen Hetherington.

“21 Bridges” is a new police film that hits home to those working as first responders as well as their families. Though the portrayal of financial struggles many officers encounter is spot on, the ending of the movie inaccurately suggests the multitude of crooked cops in the U.S. 

There have been many officers investigated for misconduct in the U.S., but many are also simply free from any illegal acts or suspicions. While no officer is perfect, many who are investigated for misconduct are never charged. Hollywood has a warped image of the police force that is often made up of rumors and myths. This film not only showed that, but it showed the willingness to remain attached to the public’s opinion of first responders. 

The first scene showed Chadwick Boseman’s character, Andre, as a young boy attending the funeral of his father, who was a police officer. As the daughter of a former police officer and chief, this is the most feared situation any family member of a first responder might have. As of Oct. 1, 35 officers have been shot and killed in 2019.

The scene changes to Andre as a grown man taking care of his mother while working as a detective. He is said in the movie to be the “guy that kills cop killers,” which comes in handy when eight officers are shot and killed by two drug smugglers leaving a closed restaurant. This was a dark portrayal of the killing. The scene was tragic anyway without the amount of gore although this is sadly the reality of the job. 

Throughout the movie, it shows Boseman’s character chasing the two men through Manhattan. While one dies, another has fled with flash drives containing information about the corruption of the 85th precinct. Not only is it highly unrealistic for a whole precinct to be corrupt, but this just shows how Hollywood could never make a police movie without a cop-hating agenda. 

While the trailer mentioned slain officers as the theme, the film turned into yet another portrayal of crooked cops in the U.S. While many of those corrupt officers in the film died in the original shooting, this doesn’t justify the act. Corrupt or not, killing an officer should never be a just act, as it isn’t equitable to take the law into your own hands and decide the fate of another human being. 

The only accurate thing about this film was the portrayal of the lack of financial stability as an officer. Many small-town officers only make $30-40k a year, except in New York, where an officer will make a starting salary of $42-85k, depending on years worked. This shows the stress of the job as the amount that officers are paid is never enough for how much they risk. 

As the daughter of an officer, my dad has come home to our family with a smile that hides the true events he saw on a day-to-day basis in the field. With the amount of death each officer sees and hate each officer is given, there isn’t enough payment in the world for these men and women, much less $30k a year. While this would never be a just cause for corruption, this movie did precisely show the stress of the job, which could often lead to such events. 

The film, however, still contains the lie that all cops are corrupt. While everything is dramatized in order to make for a better movie, it entertains the notion that all cops are involved in misconduct, which is an idea that seems to be getting pretty old. Hollywood is trying to appeal to a larger audience, which has the popular opinion of resentment for first responders. 

“21 Bridges” is a great action movie, but proves that Hollywood just doesn’t understand the reality of the job.