Broken City (2013)

Broken City
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Strong coarse language and sexual references

Director: Allen Hughes
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Alona Tal, Natalie Martinez, Kyle Chandler, Michael Beach, James Ransone, Griffin Dunne

In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler.

DVD
Status: QuickPick
Run time: 109mins
Origin: UNITED STATES
Aspect Ratio:
Audio Formats: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
Vote or die
by Simon Miraudo,

Broken City may break new ground when it comes to pioneering cinematic scowls, but that's the only area where the cast is able to elevate the banal material. Director Allen Hughes (his first time working without brother Albert) and screenwriter Brian Tucker have crafted a truly ho-hum political thriller; one that seeks to coast on the inherent pleasure of seeing Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg trade grimaces. Catherine Zeta-Jones gets some good ones in there, and Jeffrey Wright pretty much only glares these days. Sooner or later though, they all have to pry open their mouths and deliver Tucker's dialogue. And boy, do we wish they wouldn't. It opens with the movie’s lone visual flourish: a slow motion shooting of a black teenager by police officer Billy Taggart (Wahlberg). New York City ma...

Broken City may break new ground when it comes to pioneering cinematic scowls, but that's the only area where the cast is able to elevate the banal material. Director Allen Hughes (his first time working without brother Albert) and screenwriter Brian Tucker have crafted a truly ho-hum political thriller; one that seeks to coast on the inherent pleasure of seeing Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg trade grimaces. Catherine Zeta-Jones gets some good ones in there, and Jeffrey Wright pretty much only glares these days. Sooner or later though, they all have to pry open their mouths and deliver Tucker's dialogue. And boy, do we wish they wouldn't.

It opens with the movie’s lone visual flourish: a slow motion shooting of a black teenager by police officer Billy Taggart (Wahlberg). New York City mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Crowe, hamming it up) promises to sit on some incriminating evidence, essentially putting the cop in his pocket for life. Seven years later, with Billy now retired from the force and working as a private investigator, Hostetler calls him in to finally have the favour repaid. The Mayor suspects his wife (Zeta-Jones) is having an affair, and a scandal is the last thing he needs while seeking re-election. Billy agrees to just follow her around and take some photos. The fact Hostetler is petting a dog while describing the mission should have perhaps indicated he's not the well-intentioned cuckold he claims to be.

This job offer is preceded by a monologue in which Hostetler describes the difference between men and women, comparing them to loyal, male dogs, and “bitches in heat,” respectively (if not respectfully). That’s the kind of insight offered up in Tucker’s deathly dull and almost embarrassingly stupid script. It's the kind of stuff you'd imagine a Devil's Advocate era Al Pacino would recite, however even he probably would have thought twice about taking on the role of Hostetler. Broken City is sub-Pacino. So, just let that sink in.

The characters are universally skeezy, which is surely why Tucker felt comfortable writing such misogynist speeches for them to deliver. But misogyny permeates the script in other ways. Billy fights with his girlfriend (Natalie Martinez) – a professional actor – after watching her sex scene with another man. He leaves her, and they never reunite. Instead, love blossoms between Billy and his brassy assistant Katy (Alona Tal), who promises to "always wait” and be there for him, no matter how dangerous his missions. Meanwhile, the poor ex-girlfriend's mother takes Billy's side, calling her a 'puta.' This really bugged me. (You’d be surprised what minor subplots you’ll fixate on when the film surrounding it is so tiresome.)

I haven’t even mentioned Hostetler’s political opponent, Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper); a noble character, evidenced by his last name. This is the level we’re working at people. Kyle Chandler plays his campaign manager, and Wright appears as the police chief. Broken City has been gifted with a stacked cast, yet it's all for naught. Hughes can’t breathe life into this supposed scathing indictment of NYC politics; instead he's smothered by a series of obvious plot machinations, and trapped in a universe populated exclusively by dullards. Wait until you see how this movie depicts political debates. Parks and Recreation is more thrilling in that - and virtually every other - regard.

2/5

Check out Simon Miraudo's other reviews here.

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Member Reviews (24)

Boring, only watched 30 minutes of it.
Posted Thursday, 12 June 2014 See my other reviews
achates20
says
a movie with little plot and about crooked politicians corrupting the city as happens in most big cities
Posted Wednesday, 12 March 2014 See my other reviews
not too bad
Posted Wednesday, 26 February 2014 See my other reviews
IanW
says
Enjoyed this movie, with some unexpected twists and turns to the storyline, - well worth a watch. Pity about 'Crowe the Mumbler'.
Posted Monday, 17 February 2014 See my other reviews
CURLS
says
Any thing with Mark Walhberg is great , good story line , kept the audience involved until the end.
Posted Sunday, 9 February 2014 See my other reviews
Thought it was great with a twist
Posted Thursday, 16 January 2014 See my other reviews
jc
says
Very interesting movie, a little hard to follow, partly because Russell spoke softly and mumbled and partly because the editing was not the best. The story was very good but once again the poor editing allowed confusion and we had to rewind several times to keep up. Two characters, the police commissioner and one detective were almost identical which I felt was bad casting.. come on film makers, don't make it too hard. Catherine was gorgeous, Mark did his part well, anyone could have played Russells part better.
Posted Thursday, 12 December 2013 See my other reviews
Bad
says
Bad
Posted Wednesday, 27 November 2013 See my other reviews
David Williams
says
I didn't think it was as bad as other reviews.It is not an action movie but a drama.
Posted Tuesday, 12 November 2013 See my other reviews
Was ok. A bit drawn out and dull.
Posted Wednesday, 30 October 2013 See my other reviews
Maxx
says
What a waste of great talent!
Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 See my other reviews
Nola
says
I agree that it is one of the most revolting movies that I ever started watching. A half hour was all I could cope with, and it does not deserve any more than one star. Russell Crowe was disappointing to say the least.
Posted Thursday, 10 October 2013 See my other reviews
This was one of the most terrible film I've ever seen. We watched 45 minutes and then read the wiki to tell us what happened. No stars but I have to give it something to post.
Posted Friday, 4 October 2013 See my other reviews
just ok
Posted Wednesday, 25 September 2013 See my other reviews
Not bad but expected more with the great cast.
Posted Friday, 13 September 2013 See my other reviews
garrett
says
good movie, could have been better. Russell seems to enjoy his role
Posted Friday, 13 September 2013 See my other reviews
Ending was a little too swift, other than that it was alright
Posted Tuesday, 10 September 2013 See my other reviews
sue
says
This is a good film which you have to listen to it, it has good acting and a good plot.
Posted Monday, 26 August 2013 See my other reviews
CC
says
A reasonable political/corruption movie, focusing on plot twists at the expenses of an actually good plot. Unfortunately, almost all of the 'plot twists' are pretty obvious within the first 20 minutes or so, and there's nothing new in any of them. Wahlberg seemed out of his depth, Zeta-Jones was wooden, and Crowe was the same as he always is.
Posted Thursday, 15 August 2013 See my other reviews
Lee
says
Bit disappointing, okay but could've/should've been so much better, Russell played the swarmy corrupt politician well, but we didn't see enough of Catherine Zeta-Jones. Mark Wahlberg tried his best.
Posted Tuesday, 30 July 2013 See my other reviews
tracy
says
ok, a little slow in places. Quite easy viewing.
Posted Thursday, 25 July 2013 See my other reviews
Ann E.
says
Was expecting much better from this great cast list but it was very disappointing.
Posted Friday, 19 July 2013 See my other reviews
Got pretty bored pretty quickly. Storyline is a little slow for my liking
Posted Tuesday, 16 July 2013 See my other reviews
Rob
says
nothing special... ...you might be better off with something else...
Posted Saturday, 6 July 2013 See my other reviews
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