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Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is a New York city cop who got off on a
technicality following his execution of a supposed rapist/murder.
Discharged from the force by his Captain (Jeffrey Wright), Taggart is
viewed highly by Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) for taking out the
trash with a common thug. Seven years later, Hostetler, amidst a re-
election battle against golden boy city councilman Jack Valliant (Barry
Pepper), hires Taggart to find out who is sleeping with his gorgeous
wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). As Taggart follows, he uncovers a much
In his first solo outing, Allen Hughes (one half of the Hughes brothers that brought us "The Book of Eli") now offers a stylish, dark vision of corruption in New York. The ladies are beautiful and all have something to hide, the men are violent and vicious and the story is ripped out of countless true-to-life headlines. "Broken City" lives up to its name and fires a slug packed with intrigue and intelligence. That doesn't necessarily translate to mean "clever".
The story sold in the trailer is a bit misleading, but perhaps that's the point. Mayor Hostetler's hiring of the true-blue cop Taggart is only a minor segment of a much larger puzzle. It involves cops, businessmen, and politicians in bribery and exploitation with a prize that all but Billy seem to seek: power. Overall that is the film's theme and it more than adequately conveys it. If you understand that and aren't looking for much else, "Broken City" is your ticket.
As I was watching the film I kept thinking that there must have been some significant cutting and re-editing. Perhaps the original cut was too dry so they added in some scenes and cut some to make the film seem more edgy. But it doesn't seem as edgy as it could have been. A number of subplots (for instance Billy's actress girlfriend, or the undeveloped father-son relationship between two of the villains) go nowhere and remain unresolved when the screen goes black. I felt much the same way.
Mark Wahlberg does an excellent job playing Mark Wahlberg, a role he was born to play. Catherine Zeta-Jones is as beautiful and commanding as ever in a role that is too short for the movie. But it is Russell Crowe who devours his scenes with the political intensity I would suppose is necessary for any real Mayor of New York. Even as the script built around Billy lags, Crowe tears apart his role. He shows why he is truly one of the best actors in the business.
The supporting cast of this film are as much a draw as the leads. Jeffrey Wright, the usual supporting character with more power than he lets on, plays the secretive Police Commissioner. His character is introduced as a stock role but ends up being much more. Kyle Chandler has a small role that deserved to be expanded. Barry Pepper, who wasn't even featured in the trailer, is the only actor in the film with the same bravado as Crowe. His scenes, particularly one with Wright and Wahlberg, are indicative of why he should be the one on the poster, now buried in the bottom credits.
Overall "Broken City" kept my attention but left me hungry for more. I suppose that is all you can ask for at the movies. I would take this ride again.
I give this a five for the cast, but a two for the obtuse and predictable script, which inexplicably appeared on the Black List of best unproduced scripts -- in which category it should have remained. In development hell for years, it should at the very least have undergone a major rewrite to simplify the story (which wanders all over the place and becomes dumber by the minute) and raised the tone up out of the gutter. Whichever studio execs placed this on the Black List need to stop sniggering over the dirty words and earn their money by figuring out just what constitutes a good script. Wahlberg is always a pleasure to spend time with but the phoniness of so many of the scenes and the clunkiest car chase ever defeat even his efforts to entertain. So much of this movie is predictable and so many scenes are actors simply going through their paces with inferior material. The gorgeous, gorgeous Catherine Zeta Jones is totally wasted in this piece of dreck. Somewhere in this movie there may originally have been a good idea about corruption in the city. Unfortunately nobody appears to have had the courage to grab it by the throat, beat it into shape and present it to the public with any wit, style or originality. Like it says in the header, this is painting by numbers.
First of all whats with the title of the movie? its catchy but hardly bears any relevance to the story. The plot and the screenplay are just good for a detective show on the television. Even when it tries to pack some thrill, the plot is so obvious that you can almost make out what has really happened. performances from Wahlberg and Crowe are decent although we have seen better from them. Catherine zeta Jones is absolutely wasted. when you watch the movie, you get a feel that you have seen this before as there's hardly anything new to offer. overall watchable once you start watching it but why should you in the first place? give it a miss. you wont miss nothing.
This is a movie that is much less than the sum of its parts. Good cast,
good director, both completely undermined by a Godawful script. I sat
through the whole thing hoping it would get better, even though it
revealed its awfulness within the first ten or fifteen minutes, but no
such luck ... it just descended into further levels of horrible until
it finally fizzled out with a whimper.
The plot is a mishmash of elements from other, superior movies -- cop with a vigilante bent, corrupt mayor, blackmail, plucky Girl Friday, double-crosses, incriminating documents being shredded, blah blah blah - - with extra subplots (girlfriend seduced by showbiz, father-son conflict, gay marriage) thrown in for good measure, except they don't advance the story or humanize the characters one bit. The script is full of expository dialog (most irritating rookie-screenwriter habit ever), improbable twists, clunky edits and plot holes you could park a semi truck in.
This one might be worth seeing on DVD, especially if you can make up a good drinking game to go along with it -- take a shot for every plot hole, perhaps? Or every slip of Russell Crowe's questionably-Queensy accent?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In New York City, detective Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) goes to court
for the murder of the rapist Mikey Tavarez (Luis Tolentino), but the
Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) and the Chief of Police Carl
Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright) vanish with an important evidence and Billy
is declared non-guilty by the judge but he leaves the police
Seven years later, Billy is a private detective that lives his girlfriend Natalie Barrow (Natalie Martinez), who is an aspirant 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 US$ 50,000 to investigate his wife Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones) that he believes is having a love affair. Billy discovers that Cathleen is meeting Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler), who is the coordinator of the campaign of Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), 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 investigate the truth behind Paul's murder.
"Broken City" is a great political thriller about a situation that certainly happens in big cities. Mayor Hostetler is evicting people from a residence building and selling the real estate for an underrated value. In Rio, there are mysterious interests from the Powers That Be that change the construction code allowing tall buildings at the seaside streets; or destroy a velodrome and a car racing track in a valuable real estate and intending to construct another in a mined area that belongs to the Brazilian army; or valorize the harbor area with questionable constructions. Unfortunately only in fiction majors are investigated and arrested. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Linha de Ação" ("Action Line")
Broken City (2013)
*** (out of 4)
Entertaining but very flawed political thriller about a private eye (Mark Wahlberg) who was thrown off the NYC police force but gets a major job when the Mayor (Russell Crowe) asks him to find out who his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is messing around with. This case is rather easy for the man but soon he realizes that this is just the start of dirty business. BROKEN CITY, as a thriller, really doesn't work because the plot is rather silly. It's especially silly if you start to think about it too long and that's why it's best to just walk into the theater, turn your brain off and enjoy the excellent cast that's offered up here. It's always amazing to see how many great actors they can get for less-than-stellar material but the three leads are excellent as are Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper and Alona Tal. The performances are certainly the reason to check this film out as they help keep the film moving along no matter how many twists and turns get thrown at us. Wahlberg is once again a lot of fun playing the tough guy and has no problem with this. Crowe appears to be having fun with the less than serious role and Zeta-Jones gets a couple nice scenes along the way. I thought Pepper is the one who really stood out playing the man going up against Crowe's character in the upcoming election. Tal was also a breathe of fresh air when she's on screen. An almost unrecognizable Griffin Dunne also plays a supporting part. Director Allen Hughes does a nice job at keeping the film moving at a nice pace but there's still no question that the material just isn't all that strong. I'm not sure if there were countless re-writes or not but the screenplay pretty much hits on every cliché that this lower-quality political thrillers do. The twists and turns aren't all that shocking and neither is the ending. Still, BROKEN CITY remains enjoyable thanks to the cast.
The quality of a corruption-themed political thriller with a
star-studded cast always comes down to one thing the script. Mark
Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Kyle
Chandler and Jeffrey Wright definitely qualify "Broken City" for that
category of film, and so all eyes are on rookie screenwriter Brian
Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) is a New York City police detective acquitted of killing a man who got off on a rape and murder charge. The mayor (Crowe) and commissioner (Wright) know a bit more, however, and require Taggart to step down. Seven years later, Taggart is a private investigator owed a lot of money that he hasn't seen, so when the mayor comes calling weeks before election day and asks him to find out who his wife is sleeping with, he quickly agrees. But when he completes the job he finds he's been double-crossed and set up as an accomplice to murder.
The plot is most definitely neo-noir, but the direction of Allen Hughes (one half of the Hughes brothers, the duo behind "The Book of Eli" and "From Hell") provides it with none of that style or class. But visual flare becomes irrelevant when your audience is too preoccupied with making sense of a convoluted plot.
Tucker weaves an intriguing network of deception that keeps you from trusting any character in the movie, including even Taggart, but there are too many pieces, including barely introduced characters, that comprise the hidden truth in the story. Consequently, the film relies on heavy- handed dialogue and formula way more often that it should. Tucker tries to make it so every component of the film connects in some way, yet to do so he falls back on clichés.
A lot of the dialogue is also steered toward set-ups for sharp one-liners. These veteran actors know how to work lines of this contrived nature, but because the rest of this film doesn't do its job, these quotes elicit chuckles more than satisfied smirks.
Of all the talents, Crowe gives the film's best performance as the shadowy Nick Hostetler, who despite preferring to keep his own hands clean, comes off as though at any moment he might roll his sleeves up and punish someone. Considering the trailer casts him as the bad guy, it's impressive that you'll like him for as much of the run time as you do.
The script attempts to paint Taggart as a complex main character of moral ambiguity, but he just sort of drifts in and out of likability instead. Few actors do the "man on a mission" better than Wahlberg does, but Taggart is saddled with a penchant for violence that crops up sporadically and he's also a recovering alcoholic. And that's in addition to his past transgressions.
The conflict plays over a mayoral race between Hostetler and Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), which gets a lot of play despite factoring minimally into the main narrative. It's part of the many cogs necessary to make the plot function, but it mostly results in the spouting of political rhetoric that just makes the story all the murkier.
"Broken City" works reasonably well in individual pieces and scenes, but as part of the master plan, they're drawn together almost haphazardly, with some crucial details cutting across the screen in the blink of an eye. Even so, the resolution all comes down to some really simple and even cliché plot devices. There are no late twists or revelations that really turn the tide; the biggest one gets nullified almost instantly.
Any film can flash some big names and load up on reputable faces, but in this genre, script is king. Hughes is practically invisible as a director, so Tucker's work is exposed all the more. Some strong acting really bolsters the film's strengths, but it only goes as high as the structure it's built upon, and that structure has enough kinks that "Broken City" only delivers marginal satisfaction.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before I even get into a review I just have to mention something thats
rather annoying, I am not a conservative but I am certainly not a
liberal. But when forced to pick sides I go with conservatives, anyways
this stupid film had the audacity of making the Crowe character into a
total republican thus heres the subliminal message for you moron movie
goers, republicans are greedy and liberals are always pure and noble
socialists who just want to abuse those very rich snobs. Of course we
all know how that really goes, they say they'll tax just the super rich
and me a guy who makes 1600 a month working at a grocery store gets
hammered with that 2 percent payroll tax, thanks liberals, jerks.
So anyways I went to see this at my discount theater today, and it was discount day at the discount theater which means I paid $1.50 to see this turd of a movie. I thought hey even if its bad its got Russell Crowe and he usually doesn't star in garbage, well so much for that. This was just bad all around.
It was a plot you could see coming a mile away, Wahlberg at the start of the movie guns down a black kid for raping his girlfriends sister. It was murder but he got off because he's a cop. Anyways so later Crowe the corrupt and of course very republican Mayor needs a favor and calls in the dependable Wahlberg to use his super rare skills of taking pictures of people having affairs.
Heres where it gets stupid, Crowe with all his mayor connections has to call in two bit hood Wahlberg to track his wife. Sure makes sense.
So Wahlberg does his job but then the guy he was spying on ends up dead, turns out it wasn't an affair but Crowe's wife leaking information to an aide to the opponent.
Wahlberg feels bad, and yea you can figure out how the rest of this movie goes. I mean its bad enough the plot sucked but they gotta throw in their little high and mighty we are Hollywood and thus we understand politics better than you so be sure to notice how Crowe is a republican and his adversary is a liberal.
From a purely cinematic view point, all political frustrations aside this film fails because you never for a minute care for any of the characters. Whats so great or interesting about Wahlberg's guy, seems to be an emotionless jerk. As for Crowe he's not a good enough villain because you never think for a moment he could outsmart anyone so you know how the film will conclude. And Catherine Zeta Jones, why was she even in this movie? Can she just not get good parts now, it was a nothing role and she did nothing with it. I might have to remember to miss the next couple of generic Wahlberg films that come out. They are usually bad but you can still watch em, this one was a new low of dullness.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is a mess. It's an entertaining mess but a mess nonetheless.
Besides taking no time to introduce or make us care about any of the
characters, the overall plot and concept are simply ludicrous and
that's putting it mildly. What transpires a week leading to the
election for mayor of New York is so outrageous and nonsensical that it
deflates this movie right to its core. Character actions make no sense
at all and the movie tries to turn on a dime in a few places to seem
clever or deliver some sort of arc but it all plays out as lazy writing
SPOILER: The mayor's wife Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is written the worst of all and when you think about it, her involvement and the motivation of others to include her makes no sense at all. It's not a plot hole, it's just too silly for reality or for entertainment in this case. You have to have a plot that makes sense in the first place for there to have plot holes or flaws. Crowe phoned in the bad guy mayor role because I believe that he had to. There's nothing there to work with as an actor, even one as good as Russell.
Overall, the writing and character beats are atrocious just like Wahlberg's last early year release Contraband.
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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