Movie Review

'Broken City' doesn’t take the predictable route

Fort Worth Star-TelegramJanuary 17, 2013 

  • Broken City B- Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Natalie Martinez Director: Allen Hughes Website: www.brokencitymovie.com Length: 1 hour, 49 minutes Rating: R (strong language, some sexual content, violence

Sometimes the trailer is the best thing about a movie. Other times it doesn’t do the film justice, making it seem far more routine than it really is.

Such is the case with “Broken City,” which looks like just another urban thriller with Mark Wahlberg flexing his usual “you-talkin’-to-me?” East Coast attitude. The reality is that, while “Broken City,” is hardly revolutionary, it’s a slyly entertaining cop saga that leans more heavily on acting and dialogue than gunplay and chases.

Wahlberg is Billy Taggart, a New York City detective who left the force under a cloud seven years ago after a high-profile shooting. Now, he’s a low-rent private eye who has been reduced to taking incriminating photos of wayward spouses. To add financial insult to career injury, he then has to hound his loutish clients to get paid.

So when the pugnacious mayor (Russell Crowe) summons Billy to his office, he says he thinks the city’s first lady (Catherine Zeta-Jones) has been playing around, and offers him $50,000 to come up with the goods, he’s is more than happy to take the job. But the payday soon turns into a nightmare as Billy realizes that what seemed like a simple love triangle is really a complex web of political corruption and civic chicanery.

As directed by Allen Hughes – in his first film that he didn’t co-direct with brother Albert (“The Book of Eli,” “Dead Presidents” and “Menace II Society”) – “Broken City” feels more in the spirit of a gumshoe classic of a previous era. People have real conversations, the puzzle at the heart of the plot is genuinely intriguing, and Wahlberg and Crowe – who, thankfully, isn’t called on to sing – turn in strong performances as their relationship shifts from cordial to hostile.

The script, written by newcomer Brian Tucker, also includes some welcome touches of light humor, often provided by the jokey relationship Billy has with his assistant, Katy (Alona Tal, “Supernatural”).

Certainly, “Broken City,” is no “Chinatown,” with which it shares some storyline similarities. But it also doesn’t devolve into predictable action and easy resolutions, which gives it a leg up on its multiplex competition.

Now it just needs a new trailer.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service