Younkie the Movie-Junkie Review: Broken City


Movie Review: Broken City -

Allen Hughes, one half of the directing brothers who did the stylized Jack The Ripper film “From Hell” and street life drama “Menace 2 Society”, goes solo for “Broken City” but if his name didn’t appear during the credits, you would never know this was his. Lacking suspense, style, and surprise, the project falls flat long before it breaks.

Mark Wahlberg plays NYC Detective Billy Taggert, relieved of duty after the community goes into an uproar over an “in cold blood” shooting of a “supposed” rapist. Seven years later he’s a private eye who gets back into the good graces of Mayor Nick Hostetler (Russell Crowe) by agreeing to investigate the extra-marital affairs of his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Hostetler has just sold off a low income housing project to relieve the city’s debts and is in a heated election with Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), who, yes, is just as good as his last name indicates.

First time screenwriter Brian Tucker starts promisingly enough by focusing on an economic structure that favors the rich but any provocation ends there. Soon Tucker goes the conventional route with a murder, a politician having a gay affair (which for some reason is brought up and then discarded), and a police cover-up and Taggert must wade through this mess to lead us back to the person we knew was pulling all the strings to begin with. Not only that but the film veers off and feels longer by going into things that wind up having no baring on the plot, like Taggert’s drinking problem and jealousy over an actress girlfriend. Hughes manages to do nothing with this material, even his one car chase looks muddled and rushed-through.

It comes down to the two stars to add any life. Wahlberg can play a hardened cop role like this in his sleep while Crowe shows he’s way more fun when he can verbally joust with the best of them rather than warble through a musical like “Les Miserables”. Meanwhile Catherine Zeta-Jones for some reason sounds like she’s channeling one of those 1940’s dames and doing a much better job of it than Emma Stone did last week in “Gangster Squad”.

But “Broken City” strands them in a forgettable, conventional, and basically thrill-less experience from a director who’s turned in just the opposite in the past.