For a cookie-cutter crime thriller, “Broken City” is surprisingly entertaining and well-rounded without pushing the limits. It drags you right into the middle of a scandalous political battle in the “greatest city,” where murder and secrets are nothing new.
The story starts where officer Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) has just shot a man accused of rape and murder. After being ruled innocent in court and fast-forward seven years, ex-officer Billy is now a private investigator struggling to make ends meet at his little office with his trusty assistant, Katy.
In the midst of his re-election campaign, Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) hires Billy privately to find out with whom his wife, Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones), is having an affair. Billy seizes the job as an opportunity for redemption.
Haunted by his past, Billy investigates and uncovers that he was being used as a pawn by Hostetler in a bigger plot. The election race quickly spirals into a focus of negative tension, scandal, secrets, and corruption.
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler
Running Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes
There are more than a few loose ends that aren’t resolved and don’t add any substance to the overall story. Those storylines are left unresolved, and the film could do without them, but perhaps they were intentionally placed. It is challenging to balance humor and drama in a thriller such as “Broken City,” yet screenwriter Brian Tucker executed it skillfully.
What makes this film great is the powerful cast. Everyone gives realistic and convincing characteristics to their respective roles. Wahlberg delivers a great performance as usual as a haunted ex-cop trying to redeem himself.
It is extremely entertaining to watch Wahlberg’s scenes with Crowe. There is so much tension between the two characters, particularly because they start off as buddies and quickly become enemies.
Director Allen Hughes relies on fast-moving camera angles and close-ups of the actors. These techniques draw attention to Crowe’s facial expressions as he portrays a corrupt politician with his smirks, grins, and eye twitches. Crowe is so believable as the bad guy that he makes it easy to hate him.
Catherine Zeta-Jones plays an essential role as the mayor’s wife but fails to stand out among the rest of the cast because the screenplay doesn’t allow her much breathing room. Nonetheless, Zeta-Jones demonstrates the struggles as the supportive role to a politician in the limelight.
Supporting actors such as Jeffrey Wright as the commissioner, Barry Pepper as Jack Valliant (running opposed to Mayor Hostetler), and Kyle Chandler as Paul Andrews (Jack’s campaign manager), all click into their roles perfectly and help fuel the climax and tie this film together.
“Broken City” is one crime thriller that is actually tastefully done. The dialogues are not your typical cheesy one-liners. The film hits you from time to time with enough twists and secrets to keep you on the edge of your seat, and it keeps you guessing as you dive headfirst with Billy into the New York concrete jungle scene.
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