Lit professor and gambler Jim Bennett's debt causes him to borrow money from his mother and a loan shark. Further complicating his situation is his relationship with one of his students. Will Bennett risk his life for a second chance?
In New York City, detective Billy Taggart goes to court for the murder of the rapist Mikey Tavarez, but the Mayor Nicholas Hostetler and the Chief of Police Carl Fairbanks vanish with important evidence and Billy is declared not guilty by the judge; however, he leaves the police department. Seven years later, Billy is a private detective and lives with his girlfriend Natalie Barrow, who is an aspiring actress and the sister of Mikey's victim. His secretary Katy Bradshaw (Alona Tal) is trying to collect part of the debts to save their business. In the week of the elections, Hostetler summons Billy and offers $25,000 to investigate his wife, Cathleen Hostetler, whom he believes is having a love affair. Billy discovers that Cathleen is meeting Paul Andrews, who is the coordinator of the campaign of Jack Valliant, the opponent of Hostetler and favorite in the election. When Paul is found dead on the street, Billy finds that he had been double-crossed by Hostetler and he decides to ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Greetings again from the darkness. The best Political crime dramas are complex films with multiple intersecting sub-plots, filled with stylish mis-direction and intense wordplay and back-stabbing between good guys and bad. What doesn't work is obvious. Especially obvious to the point where the audience is way ahead of the earnest, but clumsy protagonist. Luckily for director Allen Hughes (working solo without his brother Albert for the first time), he has stacked the film with a wonderful cast which makes it somewhat entertaining despite its major flaws.
Mark Wahlberg plays (what else?) a streetwise guy/cop/detective who tries to do the right thing but always seems to end up with the short straw. Russell Crowe is in fine form as the megalomaniac NYC mayor who plays dirty, but knows how to sell his stuff to the people ... even as he schemes to do great wrong. Their paths cross twice and neither time turns out so great for Wahlberg.
As for the rest of the cast, Barry Pepper is miscast as Crowe's mayoral opponent; Jeffrey Wright is intriguing as the Police Commissioner seemingly playing both sides against the middle; Catherine Zeta-Jones is Crowe's most unhappy and disloyal wife; Kyle Chandler plays Pepper's campaign manager (and evidently more); and Griffin Dunne is a rich Crowe supporter and knee deep in the evil scheme. Also interesting is Alona Tai as Wahlberg's wise-cracking assistant.
While no details will be spilled here, there is a fun exchange during the debate between Crowe and Pepper, and well, the movie is just at its best when Crowe is on screen. Wahlberg's character is pretty much the same he has played a dozen times prior, but it seems the real issue is with first time screenwriter Brian Tucker. He is just overrun with ideas and because of that, most go undeveloped. A script clean-up from a screen veteran could have turned this one around. Still, if you have seen all the Oscar nominated films and are looking for a watchable January release, you could do worse. Just try not to think too much!
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