ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Movie Review: Broken City (2013)

Updated on October 3, 2013

Director: Allen Hughes
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Martinez, Alona Tol, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler

Broken City is the sort of film where a seven year sober PI falls off the wagon after fighting with his girlfriend, drinks himself silly, and then miraculously sobers up in the blink of an eye as soon as he's called to a crime scene. It's also the sort of the film where a police commissioner will scold an officer accused of murdering a rape suspect, but will then instruct that very same officer to hold a mayoral candidate's face down in a tub of water when said candidate refuses to answer his questions. The screenplay by Brian Tucker is so nutty that it sort of holds you in fascination: you almost want to see if the film can get any sillier as it goes along, and sure enough, it does.

Make no mistake about it, Broken City is one of the silliest films of recent memory, made all the more so because director Allen Hughes treats it all so seriously. Of course, "silly" doesn't necessarily mean bad, or boring. The performances here are better than what the material deserves. The actors on screen work hard to sell the story, even as the increasingly ludicrous nature of the story keeps viewers at arm's length. Because the actors do their jobs well, the movie becomes a lot more engaging than it otherwise would have been. That's not to say the film's worth a trip to the theaters, but it might make for a decent rental when it finally hits your local Red Box.

Mark Wahlberg plays Billy Taggart, a New York City cop who was involved in a controversial shooting seven years earlier. He was exonerated for the crime, yet because there was some damaging evidence covered up by Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe), who considered Billy a hero, he was forced to turn in his shield to prevent any further investigation in the matter. Now, Billy is a private eye suffering from serious financial woes. Many of his previous clients are either reluctant to pay him or simply refuse, and in one of the most lively sequences in the film, he and his assistant Katy (Alona Tal) call up their clients and demand the money they owe.

Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg in "Broken City"
Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg in "Broken City"

They both catch a break when Hostetler hires Billy to keep tabs on his wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones) when he suspects her of infidelity. Hostetler is in the middle of a tight mayoral race with an opponent named, and I am not making this up, Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), and he can't afford to have the story of his wife's extramarital affairs reaching the papers. So, for a nice sum of $50,000, the mayor wants him to take pictures of and identify his wife's lover. Of course, Billy is more than willing to take on the job. And, of course, Nothing Is What It Seems.

There is another subplot in the film, one that is so superfluous you can't help but wonder who in the heck decided it belonged in the film. Billy's girlfriend Natalie (Natalie Martinez) is an actress who has just landed a role in her "very first indie film." In her introductory scene, it's established that she's still shooting the film. It's curious, then, that the premiere of her film is only a week away, but never mind. Billy sees the film (which looks hideous, by the way), is turned off by its pornographic nature, accuses her of having an affair with the actor she did it with (played by an obnoxious Justin Chambers), etc. What does this subplot have to do with the rest of the movie? Absolutely nothing. It serves no purpose except to pad out the film's running time. Excising it from the film would have given the filmmakers more time to develop the story better.

Broken City marks director Allen Hughes' first film without the collaboration of his brother Albert, and it's not a badly made film. The movie has an eye-catching autumnal flourish, and aside from the dreary subplot about Billy's girlfriend, it moves at a fairly brisk clip. There are entertaining segments sprinkled throughout, including a car chase late in the picture as well as a televised debate between Hostetler and Valliant. The performances are, as mentioned, good across the board. Wahlberg is solid as Billy, bringing a certain amount of charm to what is otherwise an unlikable character (He's the sort of character who would sneak up behind a perp, shoot him in the leg, and try to claim it was an accident. Uh-huh!), and Crowe turns in an entertainingly over-the-top performance as Hostetler. Jeffrey Wright does just fine as a police commissioner with his own agenda, and Pepper and Zeta-Jones are commendable in what are otherwise bit parts. The best performance is easily turned in by Alona Tal, who brings a lot of spunk and energy to the role of Billy's assistant Katy. I look forward to seeing more of her in the future.

Broken City has one of those plots that gets dopier the more you think about it, and it is because of that I do not recommend seeing the film in theaters. However, when it hits DVD, and there's no other titles to rent at the Red Box, and you're in for something goofy yet well-acted, this might fit the bill. Broken City is not a good movie by any means, but that doesn't mean it isn't an entertaining one.


** ½
out of (****)

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)