Sunday, April 21, 2013

Broken City

Year: 2013
Director: Allen Hughes
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper

Plot: Former cop turned private detective Billy Taggart is hired by New York City mayor Nicholas Hostetler to spy on his wife, whom he thinks is having an affair. However nothing is what it seems.

Review: There have been thrillers where what you see isn't really what's going on, like The Recruit and the recent Side Effects. Broken City is in that same vein, but unfortunately doesn't quite measure up.

Allen Hughes directs this film based on a script by Brian Tucker, which is not without intrigue, but frequently seesaws between being draggy and being vague. It would potentially build some momentum, only to squander it by losing itself into the plot and veer off course. Worse still, most of the characters here are hard to like, except maybe Taggart's assistant Katy, played by Alona Tal (previously seen on TV series Supernatural).

To be fair, the cast perform well enough. Mark Wahlberg plays yet another blue collar character with huge problems. He seems to excel at playing these guys. Problem is, this time around he's not likable. I just couldn't root for the guy, not that he's bad or anything, he's just poorly written. Russell Crowe puts on a somewhat bad American accent with a politician's haircut to become the devious mayor, and he seems solid enough, yet as much as I respect Crowe, I can't help but wonder if George Clooney would fit this role better. The rest of the cast, from Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright and Barry Pepper are convincing in their respective roles, but again, they don't give the audience much reason to care about them and how they fit into the film, the script just doesn't give them the chance. So yeah, Alona Tal actually redeems a bit of the film, and you know that's not good when a minor character actually stands out.

With a tighter script and even tighter direction, Broken City could have been something. Thrillers like this, along with the solid cast would have made for an edgy piece that would keep you guessing. But the film drags itself at an uneven pace to its anti-climactic ending.

I know I haven't given you much about the plot here, instead opting to tell you why you shouldn't see this. But really, you're not missing much. It's not a horrible film, but it's something you ought to catch on cable or rental instead of the cinema. (2.5/5)

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