Movie Review - Broken City

Mark Wahlberg (left) and
Kyle Chandler in "Broken City"
Allen Hughes paints a modern-day, film noir with Mark Wahlberg as the private eye who battles to bring down corrupt politicians. Everything pivots around a murder mystery. The motive for which may be love or it may be greed. It's all mixed together.

Mark Wahlberg stars as Billy Taggert of New York City who used to be a cop on the NYPD until he was put on trial for murder. Taggert supposedly exercised some vigilante justice or just plain retribution. Yet, the charges against him are dropped or dismissed. Seven years later, he has own small business with a Girl Friday and who sneaks around spying on cheating husbands.

Russell Crowe co-stars as Nick Hostetler, the mayor of New York who supported Taggert during the trial. He hires Taggert now to investigate his wife Cathleen, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is suspected of having an affair. Taggert follows her and thinks she's hooking up with Paul Andrews, played by Kyle Chandler. When Andrews ends up dead, the question becomes who killed him.

Yes, this is film noir and often film noir is filled with bad people who are bad from beginning to end who are then propped up as protagonists. Often times, that's acceptable. Here, for some reason, it isn't. The characters are unlikeable, particularly the ones played by Wahlberg and Crowe.

Taggert's guilt doesn't appear to be too much in doubt from the top. Jeffrey Wright who plays the chief of police is pretty convincing. Because Wright is a better actor than Wahlberg, we're never really on Taggert's side, but I almost feel like the movie wants us to be. Yet, relying on the tough look on Wahlberg's face isn't enough.

Crowe is a good actor and he's supposed to play a cuckold husband, which is meant to make you empathize with him, but his dialogue, most likely provided by screenwriter Brian Tucker, don't endear him to us. He's just so bitter and angry. There is no reference to what his political party is, but I would assume that he's Republican. That in itself isn't bothersome, but, later, when he's spitting out homophobic things, even the likeable Crowe lost me.

I will say that during a scene where Crowe plays racquetball, I thought he was perhaps too old to be doing so. Yet, in the locker room afterwards, you see Crowe with his shirt off and it's clear that he is not too old and he is in great shape.

The movie gets bogged down in a complicated land or real estate deal that I never understood. It's a big enough deal that it could potentially decide the mayoral election. Hostetler is running for re-election. His opponent is Jack Valliant, played by Barry Pepper. His last name is a little too on-the-nose because Valliant is the valiant one trying to oust Hostetler whom he sees as corrupt.

A secret is revealed that changes the initial suspicions of Taggert. Unfortunately, it doesn't go anywhere. If it had gone somewhere, it might have addressed the homophobia in this film, which isn't all that offensive or integral, but it's there. Having it addressed would have counter-balanced things and added a bit more intrigue.

One Star out of Five.
Rated R for sexual content, pervasive language and violence.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 48 mins.


Popular Posts