Film: Broken City
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler, Natalie Martinez
Director: Allen Hughes
After allegedly gunning down a rapist in cold blood, New York police officer Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) loses everything except the dubious respect of crooked but popular mayor Nicolas Hostetler (Crowe). Years later, when Taggart is a down-and-out gumshoe, the mayor, requiring his services, comes calling.
Against the backdrop of a heated race where Hostetler faces the challenge of the upright Jack Valliant (Pepper), Taggart must trail the incumbent mayor’s cheating wife, Cathleen (Zeta-Jones). The plot, expectedly, proceeds to thicken.
With the corrupt politician, and his pawn, who wisens up to his schemes and must un-embroil himself from them, Broken City is a pretty generic offering from the guys who brought you the colourful From Hell and The Book of Eli.
Wahlberg performs well because he's in his comfort zone: the hot-blooded working class man with a penchant for violence. The talented Crowe brings no nuances to the evil politician trope. Pepper, who is usually a scene-stealer, is underwhelming as the honest political underdog. And the roles of the typecasted Zeta-Jones and Wahlberg’s love interest, the actress Natalie (Martinez) exist merely to further the plot.
Watching Broken City can be a frazzling experience due to the film's seemingly meandering plot and the many unanswered questions that arise at every turn. Suspense, too, is lacking as the tale unfolds in the beginning.However, the film picks up half-way through thanks to the tendency of thrillers to 'there's-more-happening-here-than-what-meets-the-eye' revelations. This saves the film from becoming an overblown television movie (Thought the floating camerawork and unnecessarily stylized cinematography don’t help much).
Broken City isn’t the most gripping drama/thriller out there, but you won’t gauge your eyeballs on it either. Without any stand-out performances or particularly smart writing, this is an able but forgettable film at best.