Allen Hughes has stepped out on his own to direct Broken City. It’s an intriguing thriller that stumbles on its feet as it comes to a close. It keeps you guessing and has a wonderful cast, but those positives can’t hide the film’s flaws.
- Director: Allen Hughes
- Writer: Brian Tucker
- Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Alona Tal, Natalie Martinez, Kyle Chandler
- Cinematography by: Ben Seresin
- Original Music by: Atticus Ross, Leo Ross, Claudia Sarne
Billy Taggert (Wahlberg) hasn’t had the easiest life in New York City. He’s an ex-cop, now working as a private investigator, who tries to survive after his name is tainted due to a controversial shooting. One day, Mayor Hostetler (Crowe) gives Billy the golden opportunity he’s been waiting for. He needs to get photographic proof that his wife (Zeta-Jones) is cheating on him. If he does this, his financial woes will go away. Unfortunately for Billy, he dives into a spider’s web of trouble, corruption and betrayal.
- Allen Hughes Behind the Camera: Allen does a great job displaying his subtle but solid style as he weaves us through the grimy streets of New York City. His sprinkles of symbolism work as does his behind-the-scenes direction with the actors.
- Acting Power: Wahlberg and Crowe, heck, most of the cast are seasoned actors who know how to handle themselves in a drama. You’ve got Crowe beaming with the magnetic personality of the mayor, while Wahlberg slumps along the streets as a broken soul. Crowe was great as the terrifying and powerful man, right down to his over-the-top spray tan that got worse as the film progressed. Even Barry Pepper’s fantastic. We love his screen time as he plays the mayoral candidate who’s honest and true to a fault.
- The Score: Atticus Ross and company clearly worked their magic on the score. It intensifies the brewing drama. Granted, some of it sounded like it borrowed cues from Moneyball and The Social Network, but we dug it all the same.
- The Girlfriend Side Story: We understand that she’s what made Billy thirsty for vengeance. It’s what gets the character into trouble in the first place. However, she felt out of place in the narrative. She does have a small hand in Billy’s downward spiral, but she comes off as comical. The actress doesn’t seem to be in top form either.
- Twists and Turns: The biggest flaw with the twists is that the screenwriter insert inserts too many obstacles for our hero. After a while, it becomes a bit much. You just want the big reveal to be shown, which sadly isn’t that big of a shock.
- Wait, What?: Our initial reaction to Broken City was, it’s a fairly good crime thriller. Then after closer examination, we realized how much the ending didn’t make sense. While it works at first, you realize that he’s hidden this huge secret for over 30 years. How did nobody notice this, especially being a political figure?
- The Mayoral Race Candidate’s Last Names: Valliant? Really? That’s the last name of Pepper’s character. Then there’s Mayor Nicholas Hostetler, which you can easily compare to “hustler.” It’s silly seeing them with such obvious symbolic last names. Their characters speak for themselves. They don’t need a title to spell it out for us.
The are some disappointing elements to Broken City. But between the solid score, acting and direction, you can mostly forgive those flaws.
The Rating: 6/10
Broken City opens in theaters January 18.
Will you be seeing Broken City this weekend?