Broken City: Reviewed
Directed by: Allen Hughes Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler and Justin Chambers New York cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) shoots and kills a rapist in the line of duty. The city has put him on trial for murder but he is acquitted and is now seen as a hero. Unfortunately, he is forced to resign from the police force by New York Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) due to unexpected new evidence which has now been swept under the carpet for political reasons.
Turn the clock forward seven years and Billy is now a private investigator reduced to sneaking around motels and gardens taking photographs of adulterous couples. Out of the blue he receives a call from Mayor Hostetler who is still in office but also in the middle of an election campaign up against a much younger candidate Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper). The Mayor hires Billy to follow his wife to find out who she is cheating with as a scandal could ruin his chances to stay in city hall.
Is Billy about to bite of more than he can chew and get in way over his head?
Well of course he is! Otherwise it wouldn’t be much of thriller. Unfortunately, the script has come straight out of the “how to write a Thriller” book by numbers. It’s very formula driven with no big surprises and you can pretty much guess what’s coming next. It’s a shame really because director Allen Hughes has brought together a good cast but Russell Crowe portrays Hostetler one dimensional, lacking the menace the character should portray to scare the audience. As for Mark Wahlberg, he just pulls out the characteristics he played in similar movies such as ‘We Own the Night’ (2007) and ‘Contraband’ (2012). It’s also very difficult to find any sympathy for Wahlberg’s ex-cop Billy who has personal relationship problems with his gorgeous wannabe actress girlfriend Natalie (Natalie Martinez) who is way above his station. Instead of offering his support at the premier of her first starring role in an indy movie, he jumps off the wagon, sinks a few Jack Daniels and flies into a jealous rage.
As the Mayor’s wife Catherine Zeta Jones does what she can with a role that has no meat on it and is totally wasted (not in a drunk way). Barry Pepper hasn’t really made much of an impression since appearing as Private Jackson the sniper in Saving Private Ryan (1998) but makes a good adversary as Jack Valliant (what a great film noir name) who is running against the current Mayor but has a ghost in his closet that might come out.
This is the sort of film that is good to watch late on TV on a wet Saturday night but I wouldn’t recommend that you pay good money at the cinema. Unless of course you are an obsessive Marky Mark fan who use to drool over his famous six pack in the early 90’s?
A mediocre two out of five.
UK cinema release March 1, 2013