fri 14/06/2024

Broken City | reviews, news & interviews

Broken City

Broken City

Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg slug it out in one-dimensional comic-book thriller

They should have towed away the script instead

It doesn’t look broken from above. Broken City now and then takes to the skies over New York to look down on the splayed conurbation. Grand views of the skyline find silver towers a-shimmer, blue rivers a-glimmer and autumn’s burnished-bronze trees aflame. Wow, you think, could we stay up here way more and spend a little less time down there in the squalor, the corruption and, worst of all, Allen Hughes’ risible coloured-crayon stylings?

You may recall Hughes’s big-screen breakthrough From Hell (2001). Big fan of blood, and the values of the graphic novel. He brings those tropes to an action thriller which harrumphs about corruption in high places. Mark Wahlberg plays Billy Taggart, a cop turned private eye hired by Russell Crowe’s Mayor Hostetler to get the juice on his unfaithful wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones, who barely left the make-up Winnebago for this one). Only it turns out that there’s rather more to her affair than meets the eye. But not much more. Something about a furtive contract between city hall and big business to make a killing on a real-estate which will see thousands of poor people evicted.

Broken CitySo that’s a lot of hot above-the-title talent hired to work a script whose workaday cynicism about politics has a strong whiff of the lower sixth. The titular city is, essentially, a derivative of Gotham, where stereotypes go thonk in the night. Hardest done by is Natalie Martinez as Wahlberg’s Puerto Rican actress girlfriend, also called Natalie (like they couldn’t be bothered to think of another name). Taggart falls jealously off the wagon when, attending her indie film premiere, he sees her character unceremoniously stripped and penetrated over a tabletop. Having got its pound of flesh, thereafter Broken City has no further use for her. Still working through the layers of sleaze on that.

As for the rest, Wahlberg is always good for some kinetic fisticuffs, there’s one fun car chase and some nice banter between Taggart and his perky assistant (Alona Tal). Barry Pepper (remember the devout sharpshooter from Saving Private Ryan?) has a moment or two as Crowe’s essentially decent billionaire political opponent. Crowe plays the charming bully without straining himself. In fact most of the nuance in his performance is located in his puzzling amber forelock. It irradiates like a glow-worm, as if plugged into the city grid. You could see it from the skies. Which also goes for the final twist.


Most of the nuance in Crowe's performance is located in his puzzling amber forelock


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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