Broken City Movie Review
Cast & Crew
Director : Allen Hughes
Screenwriter : Brian Tucker
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.
As the story progresses, there's the sense that the film has been harshly re-edited because the chain of events don't quite hang together logically. For example at one point, Billy drinks at least a full bottle of whiskey without even getting tipsy, despite the fact that he has been teetotal for seven years. And several side characters appear and disappear randomly, leaving loose threads dangling all over the place. At least Hughes has a fine visual sense as a director, and can make the most of his actors and settings. His clever use of light and shadow enjoyably distracts us from the fact that there's nothing very interesting going on.
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