MARK WAHLBERG RUSSELL CROWE JEFFREY WRIGHT CATHERINE ZETA JONES
Director Allen Hughes of The Hughes Brothers (The Book of Eli, From Hell) has stepped out on his own for a thriller with two big box office stars. Broken City is a mid- level suspense thriller that has much more invested in stars Wahlberg and Crowe than it does in the screenplay, written by first timer Brian Tucker. Broken City is the standard type of movie you see at the first of the year; it's big stars in movies they would likely soon forget after cashing that paycheck. The worst thing about Broken City for both Crowe and Wahlberg is that they have made this movie before.
Haunted by his past mistakes, ex NYC cop Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) turned private eye has been summoned by Mayor Hostetler (Crowe) to do a little investigating on his own wife (Jones). In the midst of a fiery election where the Mayor seems willing to do anything to regain his position against opponent Jack Valliant (Berry Pepper), Billy finds himself getting shot at and, regretfully, playing for the wrong side. Using his former connections and his gut, he races to uncover the many secrets everyone involved seems to be hiding before the wrong man gets elected or killed.
Russell Crowe’s mayor has some very colorful words to describe a female dog in heat. The second scene between the two actors seems to hint at upcoming devious face offs between the two. Crowe has proved in the past to be deadly with both words and actions, but too often has the Oscar winning actor, one of my favorites, taken on the corrupt or villainous role. What’s even worse, this type of manipulator he seems to yearn to play can be seen in State of Play (which was a much better thriller) or Body of Lies. It wouldn’t be so bad if just one of them were playing familiar roles, but Wahlberg is typecast again, too; same as his character in Contraband, which came out the same weekend last year!
Oscar winner Catherine Zeta Jones (Chicago, Rock of Ages) is wasted in the film, with only two full scenes at best. The plot of the suspense thriller does make a few surprise turns, but never do they excite the viewer beyond just wanting to see what happens at the end. Broken City once again takes us into a world of corruption, lies and politics as if we haven’t seen enough of that lately. What the film does do is prohibit a tidy ending; everyone in the film has a secret and they all must pay for it. Compared to the intensity of the films he did with his brother, Allen Hughes might want to rethink the power of two.
Final Thought – Broken City is a broken record for its actors.
By: Dustin Chase