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Review: Broken City

Jan. 18, 2013by: JimmyO

PLOT: When disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator Billy Taggart is hired by the mayor to find out who his wife is sleeping with, he finds himself in some dangerous territory. With a double-cross here and a twist there, he realizes there is more to this story than the politician lead him to believe.

REVIEW: BROKEN CITY should have had all the right elements to make a satisfying modern day film noir. The cast - including Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Alona Tal and Kyle Chandler - is all top-notch and director Allen Hughes (one half of the The Hughes Brothers) has created some terrific films in the past. Yet this crime drama is a ponderous and convoluted affair that fails to generate the heat and mystery that might have propelled this mediocre flick into a seriously substantial drama.

The story begins with a dutiful police officer named Billy Taggart, who is on trial for the murder of a suspected rapist freed due to technicalities. The trial becomes one of race, political advancement and the need to put the blame on somebody whether deserving or not. However, the local mayor - the ruthless and power hungry Mayor Hostetler - looks at this police officer as a hero, one who realizes that you must sometimes go beyond the law. BROKEN CITY builds on the relationship between these two men and how the two become pawns in each others lives. Things get especially complicated for the two when Hostetler asks Taggart who quit the force to become a private investigator to find out who his wife (Zeta-Jones) is having an affair with.

The problems begin with Mark Wahlbergs character. Its not that the actor doesnt work in the role, not at all. He does well with what he is given performance wise. The problem is the character himself. This private dick is hardly a sympathetic hero as he often goes from nice guy to a brutish moronic jealous boyfriend to his actress girlfriend Natalie (the stunningly gorgeous Natalie Martinez -- MovieHotties recently interviewed her HERE). It is very difficult to really care about this shady yet bland anti-hero although you might get brutish as well if your girlfriend was hanging around with the pretentiously obnoxious indie film cast that she is involved with. Either way, this ex-cop turned private detective is just a mass of clichs without any real brawn or intensity.

As the story tediously unfolds, the usual mix of backstabbing and mistrust occurs throughout. Not a single character is who you are supposed to think they are, yet the story unfolds awkwardly without any real surprise or genuine suspense. As intricate as this tries to be, there are very few surprises other than some bizarre character choices that happen throughout. It also seems that the players here put some blind faith in each other, creating a number of broken relationships that are there just to tie this mess together. Ironically enough, the script by Brian Tucker was placed on the well-regarded Black List back in 2008. It would be interesting to look back and see what, if anything had changed.

As much of a problem I had with the storytelling aspect of BROKEN CITY, it certainly is a nice looking film. Hughes has a way of creating some incredibly interesting shots which is evident from the very first scene. Even with my issues this is not to say that this is a terrible film, it does however fail to create any sort of real tension. All the actors even Wahlberg do very credible work, I especially found Barry Pepper to be terrific as a Kennedyesque politician running against Hostetler in a filthy, dirty mayoral campaign. The actor disappears into his work and continues to impress as one of the most interesting young character actors working today. In the end however, this is only a slight film that might be worth a rental. Sadly, this is not near to what could have been a great modern day mystery noir.

BROKEN CITY opens today at a theatre near you.

Source: JoBlo.com

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10:01PM on 01/18/2013
Looking at the trailers this movie actually looks kinda boring. They never did anything to make it look like much more than a pedestrian effort...pass
Looking at the trailers this movie actually looks kinda boring. They never did anything to make it look like much more than a pedestrian effort...pass
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10:21AM on 01/18/2013

I'm not surprised

When you cast Mahhk Wahlberg as a cop from New York, you're kind of putting a curse on the film.
When you cast Mahhk Wahlberg as a cop from New York, you're kind of putting a curse on the film.
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4:06AM on 01/18/2013

to bad

I had some hopes with this cast
I had some hopes with this cast
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3:37AM on 01/18/2013

Damn.

I really dug "The Book Of Eli" and some of his other older films. Dude, has a lot of style and usually has a lot of substance to go along with it. Doesn't sound like the case here.
I really dug "The Book Of Eli" and some of his other older films. Dude, has a lot of style and usually has a lot of substance to go along with it. Doesn't sound like the case here.
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3:21AM on 01/18/2013

Not surprised it was on the Black List

This wouldn't be the first time an amazing script on the Black List was turned into a "meh" film. Hollywood has a way of ruining things like that. After getting a chance to read a few of those that ended up being turned into movies, I'm pretty confident that if I *was* a good writer, I would never EVER write for film for any amount of money.
This wouldn't be the first time an amazing script on the Black List was turned into a "meh" film. Hollywood has a way of ruining things like that. After getting a chance to read a few of those that ended up being turned into movies, I'm pretty confident that if I *was* a good writer, I would never EVER write for film for any amount of money.
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3:14AM on 01/18/2013

Far Better Than 5/10

Seen this movie last week in a sneak peak and liked it more than I thought I would. The trailer could have been better, i'll admit that, but after watching the film, it was surprisingly very good. I'd definitely watch it again.
8/10
Seen this movie last week in a sneak peak and liked it more than I thought I would. The trailer could have been better, i'll admit that, but after watching the film, it was surprisingly very good. I'd definitely watch it again.
8/10
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+4
2:21AM on 01/18/2013
Kinda too bad. I've no interest in Mama, so it looks like the only film I'll be seeing this weekend is The Last Stand. Was really hoping this film would be a lot better as the trailer showed some promise. Guess there's a reason it got dumped into January.
Kinda too bad. I've no interest in Mama, so it looks like the only film I'll be seeing this weekend is The Last Stand. Was really hoping this film would be a lot better as the trailer showed some promise. Guess there's a reason it got dumped into January.
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