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Broken City (2013) Review

By   Jan 18, 2013 07:19 AM EST

Broken City Is A fairly good crime thriller but needs some fresh creativity.

Tough cop, cagy police chief, bad mayor the film Broken City comes to theaters this weekend telling a wicked tale of graft and corruption in New York City.  The well acted and interesting story gives a good show, but gets quite predictable and familiar. If you like raw crime thrillers with a political backdrop, Broken City has both.
The movie involves Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) a tough cop who gets accused of murder.  Taggart faces a judge with the city attorney arguing the case.  Meanwhile, Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) gets approached by police chief Fairbanks (Jeffery Wright) in his chambers during the hearing with possible evidence that Taggart may be guilty. Hostetler wants the case closed so he asks Fairbanks to discredit the evidence.  Taggart beats the rap because there's little evidence to put him on trial, but Hostetler fires him anyway letting him know that they have found suspicious evidence they will not pursue at this time.
The story picks up seven years later with Taggart running a successful private investigation business even though fee collections are down.  Hostetler now running for another term as Mayor asks Taggart to meet him in his office where he offers him a job to spy on his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who he says is cheating on him.  When Taggart starts taking photo's that could create a mess of the election, Hostetler makes a surprising move.
Wahlberg's Taggart reminds me of a compilation of the characters from many of his films including The Fighter, Contraband, The Lovely Bones, Max Payne, We Own the Night and more.  This is a good thing because the actor doesn't ever let up on the energy he puts in his roles.  In Broken City the tough persona he creates makes his character a standout and keeps the film salvageable right to its gutsy ending.   
Although I did like Wahlberg's usual kick butt performance, the rest of the cast are not on their best game.  Maybe it was the showing I attended, but Crowe's soft spoken performance was superficial and insipid at times lacking the force and credibility of a determined kick-ass Mayor. Although Zeta-Jones creates a lovely first lady, her role really didn't have her doing much except being the catalyst between the crooked mayor and the political race in which he's involved.  One of the most gorgeous girls to ever grace the movie screen, Zeta-Jones sure doesn't look her like she's in her 40's here with an almost absence of age the lovely actress is still the best photographable starlit.
Using every possible gaff and trick in the filmmaking book, director Alan Hughes (Dead Presidents) moves his plot along slowly trying to confuse, conceal and invent ways to create deception so it would setup a twist or two, but it never happens.  Although I do like the way Hughes sets up his story with police officer Billy Taggart being accused of a killing forcing him to take on a new profession, the rest of the story plays out without conviction. I wish at one point, Hughes would have snapped Crowe out of his trance and create some life in his character, but it never happens.
Broken City has been rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and violence.  Director Alan Hughes is best known for his work with his twin brother Albert who together have had huge film hits including their breakthrough Menace II Society that received a lot of critical acclaim.  Noted for their unrelenting violence and keen ability to bring entertaining films to the screen their absence together here may have added to this lackluster production.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A fairly good crime thriller but needs some fresh creativity. (C-)

Directed By:

MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 109 minutes
Distributed By: 20th Century Fox

For more information about Broken City visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. For more reviews by John Delia please click here.

Broken City images are © 20th Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.

Read More Broken City Reviews

Physical Media: Blu-ray Review
Midway through Broken City, one character incredulously remarks, "Private eyes still exist?" The gumshoe-for-hire profession does seem old-fashioned and mostly unnecessary now. You could describe Broken City the same way: old-fashioned and mostly unnecessary. Penned by first-time screenwri...
Full Review | Grade: C


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