“Broken City, starring Mark Wahlberg (“Shooter”) and Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”), follows ex-cop Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) as he seeks redemption and revenge after he is double-crossed by his employer, Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Crowe). Director Allan Hughes (“The Book of Eli”) takes us behind the scenes of a political campaign for mayor of New York City, but does he try to hard?
“Broken City” suffered from having an identity crisis. It tried too hard to be too many different things. At its soul it’s a political drama, but they mixed in a horrible romantic subplot that went nowhere, some poor filmed action, out of place humor (though it was funny), and some forced plot twists you could see from a mile away. That being said it is still entertaining, and aside from the romantic subplot (which was put in the movie strictly for the purpose of trying to justify an action Mark Wahlberg takes), never felt too boring or long in the tooth.
The cast was top notch and they all delivered beyond what I thought they were capable of (based on recent performances). Mark Wahlberg showed some depth and range in his acting, and I actually felt like he had emotions in this (something not typical for his work “The Fighter” aside). Russell Crowe proved that he is still worth a damn after his horrible performance in “Les Miserables.” The supporting cast (Barry Pepper, Jeffrey Wright, Kyle Chandler) all did a fantastic job, and I actually felt like I liked their characters more than the others. It continues to amaze me that Jeffrey Wright and Kyle Chandler don’t get starring roles in big films since both of them are leading man material.
What I really liked about this was how everything came together slowly over time. It was like they gave you a lot of the pieces up front, and slowly they are pieced together (I foolishly tried to figure everything out). Granted most things you can see from a mile away, and the way in which it is delivered is very formulaic (you feel like you have seen this same exact plot in the past), but the cast keeps it interesting and entertaining. The ending seems very rushed, and somewhat open ended (think the ending of “Inception”) which made me feel that with just five more minutes they could have wrapped everything up nice and neat.
As a whole while “Broken City” is not without its flaws it is still strong enough to warrant a trip to the theater. Even though the pacing is a little off in the unnecessary romantic subplot, as a whole, it moves along at a decent speed. The acting was pretty exceptional, the plot was interesting, the writing decent, and the comedic moments (though few and far between) really caused the audience to burst out, but the film suffers a little from a lack of true identity (it tried really hard to be a thriller, and it just wasn't . In the end this stays just above average territory, and if you have the time you should definitely check it out. 3/5