Director: Allen Hughes
Screenwriter: Brian Tucker
Runtime: 109 mins.
Australian release date: 7 March 2013
It seems that most modern cities in the Western world are ‘broken’ and New York is no exception. You just have to read between the lines of any large development plan and wonder exactly who is being bribed and who is doing favours for whom. In the crime drama Broken City, directed by Allen Hughes (one of the directors of New York I Love You - how’s that for irony?), we are taken on a ride that leaves us in no doubt that the above statement is true.
Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) an ex-NYPD cop, is hired by the mayor, Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe), to track down whoever is having an affair with his wife, Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones). It is just days before the mayoral elections and a lot is at stake but Taggart doesn’t come without baggage; he was cleared of charges relating to the shooting of a young thug some years ago, leading to his dismissal from the NYPD.
As the story develops, we learn that there is a whole lot of skulduggery going on and there are plenty of twists and turns that keep one guessing where it is all going. Wahlberg gives a fine performance as the ex-cop whose girlfriend Natalie (Natalie Martinez) is an aspiring actress who moves in a groovy group into which Billy doesn’t quite fit. He’s ‘a man’s man’ who takes a pretty straight-down-the-line approach to life and he doesn’t trust Natalie’s film-maker friends.
He is blasted even further out of his comfort zone when he discovers that he is in the midst of a complex web of deception where everyone seems to be playing a double game. The scenes with Crowe and Wahlberg are excellent. In a chilling role, Crowe returns to the screen with a punch after his less than memorable performance in Les Miserables. Zeta-Jones looks slightly uncomfortable in her role but maybe it is her weird costuming, which is slightly out of sync with the period; however, she delivers a very watchable performance that keeps you guessing which side she is on. Mention should also go to Jeffrey Wright, who plays a significant support role as Billy’s buddy from the time they worked together in the police force.
Broken City is a taut, contemporary thriller that should do well at the box office and is another welcome addition to the current slate of fine films on our screens. It is interesting to note that this is a first script by writer Brian Tucker and, despite a plot hole or two, it marks him out as a man to watch. If you are looking for a good ‘clean but grubby’ tale, then don’t miss this one.