While this thriller plays with themes of political ethics and ambition, it merely lets them simmer in the background. Director Hughes is clearly much more interested in macho posturing and the convoluted scandal-based plot, so he lets the cast members merrily chomp on the scenery but neglects to give us anything that engages our brains.
The broken city of the title is New York, where Mayor Hostetler (Crowe) covered up a shooting involving cop Billy (Walhberg) to protect himself seven years ago. Acquitted but disgraced, Billy is now working as a low-rent private detective when the mayor calls in a favour. He hires Billy to find out who his wife (Zeta-Jones) is having an affair with before it derails his re-election campaign against the passionate rising-star Valliant (Pepper). It doesn't take Billy long to get the incriminating photos, but clearly there's something much bigger at stake here, so he continues to investigate the situation, which uncovers such high-reaching corruption that Billy's life is in danger.
Demonstrating how little the film cares about its characters, Billy's long-time girlfriend (Martinez) is dispatched suddenly after a series of arguments during which she refuses to put up with his boorish, chauvinistic stupidity. Why she stuck with him this long is the real question. But this and other eccentric relationships in the plot are much more interesting than the dull property-development boondoggle that Hughes instead decided to focus on. The problem is that this leaves Wahlberg with the only remotely complex character, an intriguing mess of a man who overreacts wildly to everything and yet seems to want to do the right thing.
Continue reading: Broken City Review
With a cast boasting some of the greats of the past couple of decades, from Mark Wahlberg to Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones, it would be more than acceptable to be a little excited about Broken City, despite the plot about corrupt politics and general scandal having been done before, and done to death. However, with just an 18% fresh rating on review aggregate RottenTomatoes, clearly it's very, very rotten.
Set in New York City, Wahlberg plays an ex-cop who is tasked with following the Mayor's Wife (Zeta-Jones, Crowe is the mayor) only to uncover a scandal in the process. THR note that it "Would have made for a fine film noir 60 years ago but feels rather contrived and unbelievable in the setting of contemporary New York." Crowe's portrayal of the mayor is dated, not to the fault of the actor, per se, but because the script calls for him to offer visitors a scotch on arrival. "Who was the last mayor of New York City to automatically offer a Scotch to every visitor to enter his office?" The review asks, "You'd probably have to go [a long way] back."
The NY Times agrees with the noir assertion, explaining that director Allen Hughes (Book of Eli) "has painted NYC a darker shade of noir." The Times it impressed with neither the screenplay nor the cinematography saying that the script is "weak" and describes the cameras as "restless and prowling". Village Voice also agrees with them all, considering the production and direction poor, "The actors look generally unhappy to be here, most of all Crowe, who seems even more miserable than he did in Les Misérables." Overall it seems, the general consensus is to simply not bother watching it.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, L, C, Film, Allen Hughes and Sharon Pinkenson - Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (L) Film director Allen Hughes (C)and Sharon Pinkenson Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Screening of Broken City, Prince Theater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Tuesday 8th January 2013
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, L, C, Film, Allen Hughes and Mark Wahlberg - Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (L) Film director Allen Hughes (C) Mark Wahlberg Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Screening of Broken City, Prince Theater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Tuesday 8th January 2013
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, L, C, Film, Allen Hughes, Guest and Mark Wahlberg - Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (L) Film director Allen Hughes (C), Guest, Mark Wahlberg Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Screening of Broken City, Prince Theater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Tuesday 8th January 2013