“Broken City” Falters Half-Way Through


HOLLYWOOD—“Broken City” was that movie that when I saw the trailer it was a must-see on my list this year, but don’t be fooled, the movie is not what you expect it to be.  While the picture has some serious star power with Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones, inconsistency in writing throughout the picture holds it back from being an exceptional thriller.

The movie follows New York Police Officer Billy Taggert (Mark Wahlberg) whose life is a bit chaotic after he nearly lands himself in jail after a shooting incident, but Taggert has an ally in his corner, Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Crowe). With a second chance, Taggert becomes a private eye where he finds it difficult to earn work, that’s until he has a chance encounter with the Mayor who hires him to investigate his wife Cathleen (Jones) who he thinks, is having a affair.  Did I forget to mention Taggert has a bit of a drinking problem?

Does this synopsis sound similar?  If so, that’s because it’s similar to what occurred in the 1998 thriller “A Perfect Murder” starring Michael Douglass and Gwyneth Paltrow.  In that movie, Douglass hires a man to murder his cheating wife.  “Broken City’ does have some twists throughout and the first half of the movie is quite thrilling to say the least.  The spectator will be heavily engaged in the elements that take place.

As Taggert, gets more deep into his investigation he learns a bit more about the Mayor that he wants to know, which places him in a moral dilemma: does he do the right thing which could cost him a lot or turn a blind eye to what he has unearthed.  Crowe, Jones and Wahlberg all deliver exceptional performances.  Unfortunately, those performances do not compensate for the gaps in the script written by Brian Tucker.  The stars of the picture have characters that are fleshed out quite well, but the plot never takes their characters to the next level; as a viewer you become a bit bored with where the tale takes you.

The picture is directed by Allen Hughes, half of the Hughes brothers’ duo, who directs this picture solo. He has collaborated with his brother in the past on such dramas as “Menace II Society,” “From Hell” and “The Book of Eli.” The picture dallies on issues involving politics and morality that fails to draw in the spectator the way one expects the picture to do so.  Other supporting players in the movie include Barry Pepper as Jack Valliant, Mayor Hostetler’s competition, as well as Jeffrey Wright who portrays Carl Fairbanks, the police commissioner.

“Broken City” has all the elements to be an effective thriller, yet those elements fail to mesh collaboratively to make the moviegoer care.

By LaDale Anderson