Directed by: Allen Hughes
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russel Crowe
Run Time: 109 min.
“Broken City” boasts a number of twists and turns, but can’t escape the predictability that
comes with the crime thriller genre. Type–casted Mark Wahlberg plays the ex–cop-turned-private-
detective Billy Taggart, who is hired by the mayor of New York City, Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe),
to investigate the extramarital affair of Mrs. Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones). What seems to be a
simple “who-is-she-sleeping-with” case soon becomes a whirlpool of secrets and corrupt political play,
with Billy Taggart struggling to find the truth in order to redeem himself.
The short but quick-paced dialogue, the dark cinematography, and the severity of the
protagonist all combine to give the film a gritty, almost stifling atmosphere. Although not as violent
as previous works of Allen Hughes (such as “The Book of Eli”), “Broken City” certainly has its moments
of brutality, be it physical or emotional. From the subplot of an exonerated rapist-murderer to the
ambiguous fate of Taggart in the end, the film seems to convey that the good aren’t always rewarded,
just as the evil aren’t always punished; justice is not always served due to the corrupt nature of those in
power. However, there are moments of relief within Broken City. These few moments of dry humor and
sometimes vulgar jokes temporarily lift the repressive tone of film without ever feeling out of place.
Unfortunately, the plot elements of this film never stray from the crime thriller archetype,
resulting in a rather short and disappointing dénouement. There are various twists and turns as the full
story unfolds, but nothing that really escapes the predictability that comes with the genre. The subpar
plot is somewhat countered by great acting by the cast (despite their off-tone New York accent). The on
screen interactions between Wahlberg and Crowe are well done and the poise Zeta-Jones brings to her
character was brilliant. Overall, the acting and cinematography are enough to carry the weak narrative,
but just barely.
Our grade: B
See if you liked: “The Departed”