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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Broken City | Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg, Jeffrey Wright, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler, Alona Tal | Review

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Broken City

Political corruption, secret wheeling and dealing, and behind the scenes power play all rear their ugly head in this crime drama starring Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe.

Set in New York City, the film opens at night with Officer Billy Taggart (Walhberg) shooting and killing a young man.  Although put on trial for murder, Billy is later cleared of all charges with the help of the Mayor (Crowe) and the Police Commissioner (Jeffrey Wright) for withholding incriminating evidence.  In turn, Billy is forced to quit the police department. Fast forward seven years, Billy is now struggling to make ends meet working as a private eye and living with his hot Puerto Rican girlfriend Natalie (Natalie Martinez), an actress who has just starred in her first Indie film.

One day, the financially strapped Billy gets a call from Mayor Nicholas Hofstetler with an offer he can't refuse, $50,000, with half up front, to investigate whether Hofstetler's beautiful wife, Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is having an affair. The Mayor is up for re-election in one week and doesn't want his opponent, Councilman Jack Valiant (Barry Pepper) to have any scandalous information that could be used in his favor.

As Billy begins to dig deep with help from Katie, his loyal assistant (Israeli born actress, Alona Tal, who shares some cute and humorous interactions with Wahlberg) he discovers that things are not what they seem as he starts to uncover some secrets about the sale of Bolton Village, a housing project involving some wealthy land developers with connections to the mayor and Valiant's campaign manager, Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler) who holds the key the truth.

Tangled up in the scenario, Billy soon becomes aware that he has been duped, manipulated, and set up, and must find a way to seek both justice and revenge.

Although working within his comfort zone, Mark Wahlberg, gives a solid performance as the lead. On the other hand, Crowe hams it up as the power hungry, ruthless mayor who believes he is untouchable and the only one who knows how to fix his “broken city”. That said, he is miscast in what I believe is not a good fit.  It doesn't help that he brings an unconvincing New York accent to his role.

Lending support, Jeffrey Wright is in fine form as the enigmatic Police Commissioner, Carl Fairbanks, who knows more than he is willing to admit, allowing Billy to do all the dirty work.

In his first time working at the helm without twin brother, Albert, director Allen Hughes ("The Book of Eli"), adequately delivers an intriguing and suspenseful crime drama. Brian Tucker's script is flawed, a bit complicated, and features a few subplots that never go anywhere. Nevertheless, eventually the big picture comes into focus with pieces of the puzzle falling into place, leading up to a nice little twist at the end.

Broken City can't compare to 2011's more superior Ides of March, which also dealt with the discovery of a morally corrupt politician's dirty little secret during his campaign for President.  But, considering all the crap being released this early in the new year, Broken City more than passes as a fairly entertaining piece of cinema.

 

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