Q-films Review: Broken City

Broken City

Director: Allen Hughes

Screenwriter: Brian Tucker

Producer: Randall Emmett, Mark Wahlberg

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

Running Time: 109 mins.

Language: English

Rating: R

When New York City police officer, Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg, Boogie Nights), is involved in a shooting of a young Hispanic male, in the line of duty, the public is outraged. With no evidence to suggest that the shooting was anything but justified, Billy is acquitted of the charges bought against him. In a gesture of conciliation to pacify the community, Billy is called to Mayor Hostetler’s (Russell Crowe, Gladiator) office and learns he no longer has a job.

Fast-forward seven years and Billy is a struggling private investigator who is once again being called to a private meeting with Mayor Hostetler. Hostetler offers Billy a rather large chunk of change to follow his wife and get proof of an extra marital affair. It’s not long before Billy begins to believe that there was more than infidelity on the line and he is compelled to learn why he was really hired.

Billy is forced to battle his demons through out the film and struggles to remain sober. A point driven home all too often when everyone in the film seems to sip scotch as if it were water. If you can look past a couple of holes in the plot and the predictability of the film, it does carry some merit. Within the first few minutes of the film it is revealed that evidence was turned in that could have changed the outcome of Billy’s case.  This key information either helped or hindered the storyline. On the one hand the audience if left with the perception that there was something hinky with the shooting and struggle to relate to or cheer on the dirty cop.  On the other hand, you somehow know he will have a moment of redemption swinging the movie back to the predictable.

Screenwriter, Brian Tucker, attempts to build suspense, but everything is laid out and there is no thrill, though, the audience is left baffled at times. For instance, when Billy acquires something he perceives as evidence he’s shot at and a car chase ensues. When Billy is left unconscious behind the wheel, he’s left unscathed by his mysterious pursuer, whom only moments prior took shots at Billy.

A capable cast is the answer to a predictable and sometimes confusing plot. Wahlberg manages to charm with witty dialogue when he wasn’t in ass kicking mode. Crowe plays the despicable politician Hostetler appropriately, down to the proverbial spray tan. Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago) plays the beautiful wife of Mayor Hostetler whom Billy is tasked with following. Her elegance on screen is reminiscent of a 50’s starlet making her somewhat out of place in the gritty crime drama. Her scenes seem to carry a life of their own. The Crowe and Jones combination worked well as the couple that loved to hate each other.

Broken City isn’t the complex crime movie it set out to be, in fact, you might say it was fairly simple with everything neatly wrapped up for your viewing pleasure. Nonetheless, it still is an entertaining flick.

Grade: B-

Franco Ford

Franco Ford was born and raised in the Midwest and moved to San Diego in 2003. It was his exposure to border news and politics, as well as his involvement in the gay community, which inspired his first novel, Caution. He holds a Masters in Creative Writing from National University.

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