Broken City

Directed By: Allen Hughes

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler, Natalie Martinez, and Jeffrey Wright
January must be trash collection month at the box office because Hollywood keeps dumping crap onto the big screen.  Our latest junk film is Broken City, a crime drama starring Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.  If released any other time of the year, it's something that would have been considered a worthwhile release.  As it stands, Broken City has been released in January, and there’s a good reason for it.  It’s a mediocre flick.

New York police officer Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) is in a public firestorm after having shot and killed a 16 year-old boy who he claims was armed.  The people of New York see things differently, and they want justice.  A hearing is held in court to determine whether this police shooting was a clear act of self-defense or a possible crime that merits a trial.  Despite all the public outrage over the shooting, Mayor Hostetler (Crowe) exerts his political clout and ensures that Taggart doesn't go to trial.  Heads still must roll, so Hostetler relieves Taggart from duty as a New York City police officer.  Seven years later, Taggart has cleaned himself up and has become a private investigator.

Taggart works hard as an investigator though many of his clients hire him simply to find proof of their spouses' infidelities.  His newest client happens to be Mayor Hostetler.  Despite his tough reelection campaign against Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper) and the political blowback on a recent deal to sell the Bolton Village development for $4 billion, Hostetler has his eyes solely on his own wife Cathleen (Zeta-Jones).  He hires Taggart to identify the person with whom his wife has been sleeping.  He offers Taggart $50,000, money the ex-cop can definitely put to use.  As Taggart does what the mayor wants, he fails to recognize the corrupt world into which he's getting himself involved.  His part entails just taking a few photos, but the big picture is far more complicated than this.  Meanwhile, Taggart's girlfriend Natalie (Natalie Martinez) is starring in her first indie film and wants her boyfriend to come along for her big screen debut.

Despite its impressive star-studded cast, Broken City is a film that fails to do the most important thing a movie is supposed to do, entertain us.  There are two reasons for this.  First, the material is not particularly well written or directed.  Second, the stars themselves do nothing to improve this already lackluster product and make the material anymore worthwhile than it is.  All in all, Broken City is one boring affair.  It's a snooze fest about a corrupt mayor.

Director Allen Hughes really drops the ball here in Broken City.  He's crafted a crime thriller without any thrills.  Hughes tries to build a web of lies and an aura of corruption throughout New York.  Somewhere in this web, however, Hughes gets lost in the minute details of his utterly predictable screenplay and forgets to make Broken City entertaining.  He forgets to make it thrilling.  Ultimately, this is the film's downfall.  It's just too damn boring to hold anybody's attention.  Admittedly, there are some entertaining moments, but they're few and far between in this stale crime drama.  There’s also some decent cinematography.
The cast only had to deliver a few things — a conflicted hero with a dark past, a corrupt mayor with a malicious will to run NYC into the ground, and a couple of mysterious supporting characters with secret agendas.  With barely decent performances, they deliver none of this.  Mark Wahlberg's Taggart is a bland character with no depth.  With the gravity of his crimes, something should be weighing heavily on his heart.  Instead, he's just enjoying his new line of work as a P.I. who takes photos of people cheating.  As Mayor Hostetler, Russell Crowe seems to be whispering the entire movie.  That certainly doesn't help him to paint a colorful villain on the big screen.  Consequently, everybody wants a piece of this mayor except the audience.  As Cathleen Hostetler and Carl Fairbanks respectively, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jeffrey Wright offer uninteresting performances that fail to create any mystique or intrigue about their secret agendas.

There are a couple of other problems plaguing Broken City.  Hughes leaves several loose ends unaddressed at the movie’s conclusion, and the action is rather sparse considering Taggart is a cop.  I could keep going all day about what’s wrong with this movie, but I'd rather get on Taggart's bandwagon and start liquoring up.  Broken City gets a 0.09% rating.  Since Taggart is a gin man, you should grab a few gin and tonics for this one.