An aging alcoholic cop is assigned the task of escorting a witness from police custody to a courthouse 16 blocks away. There are, however, chaotic forces at work that prevent them from making it in one piece.
ack Mosley (Bruce Willis) has to escort Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to the trial 16 blocks away in 118 minutes to testify against numerous dirty cops. The dirty cops, along with Jack’s partner Frank (David Morse) try to take them out within these 16 blocks of New York City.
In the end, we learn that Jack was actually one of the dirty cops, but he turns himself in along with all the other dirty cops, and keeping Eddie away from harm.
Jack goes to jail for two years on a bargain deal, and Eddie becomes a cake baker that he dreamt of being.
The movie begins with Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) sitting in a bus, where he is recording a message to Christina, and he says he wants her to know what really happened here, despite what the police might claim happened. And the screen fades out.
In a new scene, we see police breaking into an apartment building in New York City, where they find two Latino gang bangers shot and killed. They have to clear the scene and wait for the coroner to arrive, and we hear the Captain say to call in someone they “don’t need” to keep an eye on the scene. This is where they bring up Jack who appears to be a cop that seemed at the end of his career. He goes into the apartment and against protocol, he touches everything in the room and searches for alcohol. He seems depressed and out of it and drinking on the job is definitely not helping.
Next, we see him arrive at his office, and it seems that he has worked overtime and hasn’t gotten any sleep yet. Jack limps a little, which hinted how his career as a top detective ended the day he could no longer walk right. As he heads out of the office, his Captain comes in and hands him a very simple case file that was usually done by small cops. He asks Mosley to escort a witness Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to the courthouse that is 16 blocks away from the station to testify in front of a grand jury. (He has 118 minutes to do so). Jack refuses but is forced to take it, so he complies.
Here we see Eddie Bunker in a holding cell; a skinny-talk-all-day African American that is chatting away when Jack comes in to escort him out. In the car, while handcuffed, Eddie keeps on talking; and it’s getting on Jack’s nerves. There is a lot of traffic, so Jack figures he has time, and he stops to get a drink at a liquor store, while Eddie is kept in the car.
As Jack is buying alcohol, a man dressed in a cleaning service uniform approaches the car and takes out his gun to aim at Eddie, but he is shot dead as Jack came out of the store. Chaos follows after the gunshot, and it seems Jack was frozen by it, so frozen that he doesn’t even realize he was getting shot at by a second gunman. More gunshots are exchanged, and Jack jumps into the car and reverses it into the gunman and manages to escape.
Jack takes Eddie into a bar that he seems really familiar with and asks the owner to kick everybody out of the bar including the owner. Jack calls the station for some backups to aid him, but instead, his ex-partner, homicide detective Frank Nugent (David Morse) and his crew come into the bar. Frank is a calm man, he is articulate and his words seem so mellow. He says he heard the phone call and he was around the corner, so he stopped by to help. Frank says he will take it from here. Jack is about to comply; but this time, Eddie is still talking, he hasn’t stopped talking ever since they got shot at. He keeps whining about why would Jack risk his life and stop for a drink and all that. Anyway, he keeps talking, until another detective comes into the bar, and Eddie shuts up immediately as if he recognizes the guy. And Jack realizes that something is fishy.
Frank goes on and explains to Jack that Eddie is about to testify against a lot of (dirty) cops including a chief in the courtroom. He is going to ruin a lot of good cops’ lives by telling what he saw (It is explained later in some sequences that Eddie witnessed dirty cops doing illegal transactions and even killing some guys). Frank takes Jack’s gun away, and hands it to his guys. The guys wiped the gun clean, and place it on Eddie’s hand. Then they fire a shot with Eddie holding the gun, making it seems like he snatched the gun and tried to kill the cops. Eddie is held up and is about to get executed right there in the bar. Jack takes the bar owner’s rifle and shoots the cops in the legs. He takes Eddie and goes out the backdoor.
Frank now is really angry, still maintaining is poise, and calls in more backups to find both Jack and Eddie, now claiming that Jack snapped and has started shooting at cops.
Jack enters an apartment that he probably once lived in because he knew where the spare key is hidden. He goes in and searches through the closet to get his gun (the apartment is actually his sister Christina’s). Frank knows that Jack’s sister lives around the area, so he tells one of his men to check out the apartment, only to be tied up by Jack and have his cell phone taken away.
The cell phone pick-up is actually a bad idea as Frank is able to get their exact location through GPS. This is until Eddie tries to escape, taking the subway on his own and refuses help from a drunken, handicapped cop (Jack). He immediately changes his mind when some cops on the subway are there, coming to kill him.
The scene is now at New York’s Chinatown, where a festival is happening. Knowing that they have nowhere to run, Jack throws the phone away and enters an old apartment building. Eddie keeps knocking on doors and an old Asian guy actually opens it and lets Jack and Eddie in. The team searches for them from floor to floor, and have no idea where they went.
In the apartment, Eddie changes clothes and tells Jack of his dream of becoming a birthday cake-baker. He carries a notebook everywhere with him consisting of all the recipes in the world for cakes, and he marks down everyone’s birthdays too (Jack sees how innocent Eddie is in this whole mess, and is convinced that he would protect him all the way to the courthouse). In the apartment, Jack calls the prosecuting attorney and explains the entire situation. She immediately sends escorts (more cops) to get them out safely, as Jack tells her the exact building and room number). Only this time, Frank’s crew get the info from the mole and busts into the wrong apartment and realizes they’ve been conned by Jack. Jack walks down the stairs without obstacles now, only to be stopped by Frank himself, waiting at the bottom level. But Jack is not stupid, because he had Eddie go around the back and has the gun aimed at Frank from behind.
Eddie and Jack escape another close one and go out the door. This time, Jack takes Eddie underground to a sweatshop/kitchen/laundry room with Chinese immigrants running around.
Jack seems to know his way around NYC, but so does Frank, whom Jack worked with for 20 years. Frank cuts them off and starts another shoot out, while Frank’s men are behind a steel door. Eddie and Jack are trapped between the door and Frank. The only escape is an elevator that doesn’t work. In this scene, we hear Jack and Frank catch up on all the old memories they had and what not. Frank tries to convince Jack that Eddie is a thief and all the nasty convictions, which Eddie either denies or says he has changed, only to hear Jack tell him that people do not change.
Just when they decide to open the steel door instead and shoot their way out, the elevator starts to work, and Jack and Eddie hop in and go up and out the front door.
Once they get out to the streets, they immediately hop onto a bus and are chased after by two of Frank’s men. They shoot the tires and the bus loses control and spins out into a dead end. There are 31 passengers on the bus, and it becomes a hostage situation. Now the entire swat team is here, including the Commissioner and the news crew. Frank must be careful about his actions.
Jack asks the passengers to seal the bus windows up with newspapers and tells the police that there are about 40 hostages, where there are actually only 31 of them. As they wait, Jack buys more time by demanding the prosecutor and the news crew and a stenographer to be present for him to release all the hostages. Eddie is actually talking to a cute little girl, telling her not to be afraid, and that he will send her a beautiful birthday cake when that day comes (Here again, Jack is more convinced that Eddie is a changed man and is actually good at heart).
Just when the swat team is about to break in, Jack releases all the passengers on the bus, and he even switched Eddie’s outfit with another passenger. The cops are all confused by Jack’s action. It is chaotic as the passengers come out and run for their lives, along with Eddie. Jack remains in there and believes that he has gotten his job done by getting Eddie out of it. But then, while the cops are still believing that there are nine more (imaginary) hostages, the bus driver tells them that he was the last passenger and Jack is alone; that is when the swat team is ready to take Jack out since they are told that he shot a few cops earlier.
But then, Eddie comes out of nowhere and asks everyone to not shoot, and he gets himself back on the bus again. Eddie confronts Jack about him saying people don’t change, and he wants Jack to believe that people do change (his examples are guys like Barry White). So even with all the flat tires, Jack and Eddie still manage to pull out of the dead end after taking out a few cops’ cars. But they are chased by the entire swat team, who keep breaking glasses and firing shots and throwing flash and smoke grenades into the bus. The bus stops right as it is stuck in an alley. When the swat team enters the bus, Jack and Eddie have snuck out of the bus and into an adjacent building.
This time, Eddie was shot in the stomach, and Jack calls in help from his sister, Christina, who drives an ambulance and is a paramedic. She comes and aids Eddie and manages to fix him up. As they drive towards the courthouse, Jack asks the sister for another favor.
Frank pulls over the ambulance and demands Christina to open the doors, only to find nothing in there. Jack’s favor was actually calling in another ambulance to take them somewhere close to the courthouse instead.
In the ambulance, Jack tells Eddie that he is a bad person, that Jack is one of the (dirty) cops that Eddie was going to testify against. He is going to take full responsibility now. Jack asks Eddie to leave, and leave the trial to himself. Jack is about to turn himself in and give his testimonies. Jack limps into the underground entrance of the courthouse and runs into Frank, who is always one step ahead of Jack.
Jack confronts Frank about their entire crimes, including getting some people killed to get what they needed to break some cases. Frank finally loses his cool, and yells at Jack and spills all the beans. He just can’t kill his long-term partner with his own hands so he lets Jack get into the elevator, and tells one of his men awaiting Jack upstairs to kill him. Before he can do that, Jack is spotted by the security of the buildings and is surrounded by many cops. Jack explains that he only wants to speak with the prosecuting attorney and that he has evidence against many cops, including a chief, and himself. Frank’s man still comes out to kill him, only to be shot by a SWAT member, who seems to finally realize what is going on.
Jack pulls out a tape recorder that recorded the entire conversation that Frank and Jack just had downstairs, and hands it to the prosecuting attorney. While he is being taken away, Frank stares miserably and walked away.
Two years later, we see Jack in a restaurant celebrating his birthday with his sister and a couple of friends. (Jack only got two years because he came forward about the case and got a bargain). The birthday cake, as you guessed it, was sent in by Eddie, who wrote “people do change” on it. Along with the cake, he wrote a letter to Jack and attached some photos of him and his new bakery.