Broken City is a film directed by Allen Hughes famous for the Book of Eli (2010). Broken City stars quite the cast which includes Mark Wahlberg as Billy Taggart, Russell Crowe as Mayor Hostetler, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Cathleen Hostletler and Jeffrey Wright as Carl Fairbanks.
The plot basically resides around Mark Wahlberg’s character Billy Taggart who is an ex cop turned private detective. Taggart is hired by Mayor Hostetler played by Russell Crowe to follow the Mayor’s wife Cathleen Hostletler (Catherine Zeta Jones). The Mayor suspects that his wife is having an affair with someone and it is up to Billy Taggart to investigate the Mayor’s request.
Broken City as the title suggests plays on the concept that the city of New York is somewhat corrupt and the system of law and order is broken. Justice doesn’t really prevail and those who are bad and know how to work the system such as Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) can practically get away with murder. The emphasis on the degradation of the law is placed in the opening scenes as one man is freed of his crimes due to the State of New York “not providing a convincing case”. Mayor Hostetler is repeatedly painted as a criminal and shown that he is throughout the film through his actions with Taggart (Mark Wahlberg). We are shown the extent of the corruption through Taggart’s role as a private detective as we witness just what he uncover’s about the Mayor.
I can’t discuss much more of the plot without spoiling it but I found it to be interesting enough for me to pay attention to the film. The actors I think have been very well cast, particularly Mark Wahlberg who seems to suit these type of action oriented roles. Catherine Zeta Jones was a bit of a let down as she was barely on screen throughout the film, particularly towards the end. Catherine’s character didn’t really need much more time though as her part in the film didn’t warrant any need for more. Russell Crowe as the corrupt Mayor was an interesting choice, though his accent made him a little bit difficult to understand. But by the end of the film I really liked the acting between Wahlberg and Crowe and the way they interacted and spoke so overall the acting in this movie was nothing really great or spectacular but it was good.
The directing of this movie was enjoyable. But I would mention though that in the trailers they make this movie look to be some type of action oriented movie. A type of movie you would expect car chases, hand to hand fights and shooting. That it is not. It does have those moments but it’s not a film I would describe as an action film. It’s more of a thriller with large dramatic moments and action in between to carry the story forward. I do like this better than a strait action film as you gain a better understanding of the characters. I haven’t seen much of Allen Hughes’ work but I have seen the book of Eli and I thought this film was better done. The film had a good flow to it and was very easy to understand. It’s not the type of movie that would leave people guessing, that might be good or bad depending on what you like though.
Where the movie does fall down from my point of view though is in its story. While I do like a good political thriller/action movie, this movie has some good moments but nothing great. While there is a lot of room for characters to be developed such as Wahlberg’s Taggart character they never really move to any point of change. While at the end there is some type of realisation that what was done was right I was never really sure the character’s reached that point. Wahlberg’s character for the beginning part of the film was built up as someone in love, yet discards his girlfriend quite easily out of jealousy. While towards the end aims for seeking redemption for his character, yet there wasn’t really any of this type of thing sought after by him in early parts. There are some questioning character build decisions I think that may have been missed in this movie that could have made it much better to watch. While the character’s were good, none of them stood out beyond anything two dimensional.
Overall I thought the movie did have interesting elements to it. It did have a great cast, an interesting story and plot twists throughout to keep the audience interested. It wasn’t really an action film, but does have its action moments. It focused heavily on its title theme of “Broken City” and what is done to fix such types of broken situations. It’s movie that’s good to watch, doesn’t really have any stand out moments, but doesn’t really have any bad ones either. I liked it by the end and was satisfied I just wish it had more great points to mention.