In Broken City, Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg wade into the streets of a
fictional New York, portraying its mayor and a tormented cop, respectively. This film is very political, and it drives to the heart of an issue found all around our country: corruption at every level, especially the highest.
The story starts with a shooting. As one might imagine, officers are easily found innocent in shootings because of the nature of their job, and thus Billy Taggart(Wahlberg) is found innocent after facing accusations of murder. Unfortunately, Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Crowe) has damning evidence that would cause considerable harm to the officer — who’s earned a reputation as a hero — as well
as the city leaders, if it were brought to light. He decides to let Taggart go, and allow everyone to save face, with a handshake and a promise of future remembrance.
Seven years later the tides turn, as Private Eye Taggart is asked by Mayor
Hostetler to investigate his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) for a hefty sum of money.
The cash-strapped Taggart takes the job, but finds himself diving headfirst into a political feeding frenzy two weeks prior to the election. Naturally, drama ensues.
Broken City is not a bad film. The problem is: it’s also not a great film. It has many of the elements of a good movie, but something is missing. It’s hard to blame the writing, as there was well-balanced humor and drama. It’s hard to blame
the cinematography, because the key shots are there. (But some awkward shots are there, too. For example, there’s an odd, segmented spinning shot of Crowe and Wahlberg in the mayor’s office.) It’s hard to blame the acting; everyone does a great job in that regard. But there was just something missing. I wasn’t drawn in.
The movie felt rushed in certain areas, and too long in others. It had major plot holes, like when (spoiler alert) Taggart’s girlfriend disappears, but never resurfaces. The main character never gets a true, deep, passionate call-to-action, which all heroes are supposed to have.
I enjoyed the role of Taggart’s assistant. Even the ending was a fresh take (though somewhat expected, because the main character wasn’t conflicted and chaotic enough to merit an unknown response).
All in all, Broken City is a good movie, but not a great one. You would be well-served to rent or stream it, and save your theater dollars.
3 out 5 stars
Editor: Jeff Boehm