First-time screenwriter Brian Tucker should have brainstormed more before sending “Broken City” off to the big screen. The film follows the corrupt Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe), who hires former New York City police officer Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) to solve a personal case about the mayor’s wife, Cathleen (Catherine Zeta- Jones), who is having an affair.
The film begins with a seven-year time jump and reveals Billy’s backstory. The former police officer was involved in a homicide to avenge his sister’s death. This is where he first encounters the malicious mayor, who helps cover up the crime. The two later meet as the mayor uses the murder to blackmail Billy.
With such a weak, generic plot, it was the acting that saved the film. Wahlberg works well in the role of Billy, but it is vastly similar to his role in “Contraband.” In both movies, Wahlberg plays a character with a troubled past who can coincidently shoot a gun. In this film, Billy is subtly revealed to be an alcoholic, but this detail is never developed, which limits the appeal of his character. The script makes him look weak, as if he can’t stand on his own two feet without the help of Hostetler. Wahlberg works with the script though and makes the character’s conflicts believable.
Cathleen is a true heroine and demonstrates independence as she goes against her husband, despite the size of his wallet. Zeta-Jones brings the drama and makes the character likeable, as opposed to Crowe’s.
The power of Crowe’s character is captured by the use of mid shots throughout the film. In his campaign speeches or even in the office, the mid shots emphasize his power by putting him in the center of the setting.
The script makes the plot slow moving, but the cinematography helps speed it up with fast-paced action. The setting of the movie, New York City, is also emphasized through the camera work. Whether it’s a crashing car chase, shots of the bridge or the dark streets at night, the film captures the city from every angle.
The film has potential to be as powerful as antagonist mayor Hostetler, however it remains predictable. The characters keep the entertainment, but with too many plot holes, the film is left as “broken” as the city.
Overall rating: 2 1/2 stars
This action flick falls flat with a sluggish plot, but quick action.