Starring Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jeffrey Wright. Written by Brian Tucker. Directed by Allen Hughes. Produced by Brandt Anderson, William Beasley, Remington Chase, Michael Corso, Randall Emmet, George Furla, Anthony Gudas, Jeff Rice, Adi Shankar and Mark Wahlberg.
Reminiscent of a political conspiracy film you'd expect from George Clooney, Broken City works on a number of levels. The first being its ability to incorporate light-hearted campiness - it's always easier to watch a movie that isn't taking itself so seriously, even if the subject matter is a serious one. In one scene, Wahlberg pokes fun at himself a bit and another even describes actors as 'taking metrosexual to a whole new level' and not being real men. The main character's relationship with his assistant is also humorous and their parent/child-like banter engages us with humor.
This film also works because of its clever story that genuinely surprises us and unfolds naturally. After killing an unarmed rapist, Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) is up for trial and although he doesn't get charged, he's relieved of his duties as a cop and becomes a private eye instead. Struggling to keep his business afloat, he's obliged when Mayor Hostetler (Crowe) offers to pay him $50,000 for his services - he suspects his wife (Zeta-Jones) of cheating on him and wants to find out who her lover is. Little does he know he isn't involved in a marital affair but an intricate political conspiracy that will affect the upcoming election in a major way and change the lives of the people of the city.
A cast full of seasoned performers, even if the characters are one-dimensional (Mayor Hostetler especially), is able to give Broken City some depth and keep the interactions interesting. Wahlberg stays within the boundaries of his comfort zone and plays his signature character, but it works for the most part (as it usually does). Crowe and Zeta-Jones are effective and bring a lot of tension to the screen. The script is not the most polished, with frequent cheesy lines and glorified action sequences, but it efficiently builds suspense. The only thing the film is truly lacking is a more conclusive ending and better character development. But for what it is - a high-energy action thriller - Broken City definitely accomplishes what it sets out to do. —Rebecca Hillary