Broken City

12 Jul

broken city


Director: Allen Hughes

Writer: Brian Tucker

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Motion Picture Rating: R

Runtime: 109 minutes


‘Proof can be a powerful weapon’ or so goes one of the straplines for this cops and conspiracy movie. It’s a fairly anodyne line, but reflects the lack of depth in what is a relatively high profile film. Whilst the script was recently on the black list – the best un-filmed scripts in Hollywood – it has not made the transition to the cinema in any shape to suggest why it was once lauded and why it attracted a decent cast. Russell Crowe appears alongside Mark Wahlberg and Catherine Zeta-Jones, but only one of them comes out with any credit.

Crowe is the long-serving mayor of New York, Zeta-Jones is his wife and Wahlberg plays an ex-cop turned PI with some unhelpful history with city and mayoral politics. That history is covered in the first 5 – 10 minutes when we get to see Wahlberg stripped of his badge for seemingly delivering some street justice that Charles Bronson would have appreciated. Crowe is sympathetic, but Wahlberg has to go and the film quickly wheels forward by ca. 7 years. The characters reconnect as the mayor faces a tough challenger for his position and is juggling the required campaigning with a faltering marriage. He hires the ex-cop to follow his wife and to confirm his worst suspicions.

The back story is too thin and handled too quickly to properly set this film up, but even so the eventual conspiracy elements are handled almost as badly. The plot mixes political intrigue with affairs of the heart and throws in a real estate scam too. There are dodgy politicians, corrupt bankers and other such standard character types not much seen since the 1970’s.

This is a poor film. Crowe has a faltering New York accent, is strangely fake tanned, sports an odd hairpiece and has just one good scene (where he debates his mayoral challenger).Wahlberg is his usual underwhelming self and the plotline with his girlfriend, whom he saved back in his cop days, is cringe inducing. Only Zeta-Jones provides anything like a commendable performance, but it is not enough to save a bad film. The dialogue is full of clichés and the plot twists are not sharp enough. Quite simply the film doesn’t deliver a punch – it’s more of a weak-wristed wet slap.

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