Broken City Reviews
It had a lot of promise, but unfortunately doesn't have a lot to offer. It's like a really slick half baked take on Chinatown, but without the guts, intelligence, or skill. Don't get me wrong, there's some talented people involved here, but they just seem to be coasting along on auto pilot, and it shows.
The film has a few good moments, but overall proves to be largely unremarkable and run of the mill. See it if you want, but you would probably be better off watching something else.
Great Movie! The story sold in the trailer is a bit misleading, but perhaps that's the point. I liked Broken City movie because we don't know who did what and how many people did what to whom. In other words, while we're on edge waiting for the resolution, more perpetrators enter the game and as they say, "the plot thickens." An excellent performance by Russell Crowe; and a good showing from Wahlberg too. Zeta-Jones always shines through.
"Broken City" has a few twists and turns which keep garnering the interest and attention of its audiences. All in all not a bad viewing at all!
In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler.
At its best, "Broken City" captures New York City well, especially in its being divided against itself at the best of times.(Plus, I have to like any movie that lingers so long over a political debate.) Aiding that first is Russell Crowe who looks like he is having the time of his life playing an old fashioned politician. And that's not to mention excellent character turns from Alona Tal(of "Veronica Mars" and "Burn Notice") and Jeffrey Wright.
But at the same time, "Broken City" suffers from quite a few too many extraneous subplots and tangents to be considered that much of a success either. And we get yet another a reminder how much a lost cause Catherine Zeta-Jones really is. Then there is Mark Wahlberg who is neither here nor there in the lead, which is a shame because any kind of effort could have definitely helped in giving depth to such a potentially fascinating character, even with that late surprise.
Wahlberg has long struggled to convince critics of his acting ability; indeed there are those who still insist on disparaging him by referring to the actor as 'Marky Mark'. Career reinvention, in these people's eyes, is something to be mocked, not applauded. Admittedly, he struggled with early roles, but now he's one of the most reliable actors there are. Wahlberg has become particularly good at playing ciphers, which makes him the ideal actor for a thriller. Were Hitchcock still alive, I suspect he would love Wahlberg. Because he's such a blank canvas (and I mean that as a compliment), it allows us as viewers to project ourselves into his character. 'Broken City' is easily his best performance yet and, equally, he's the best thing about 'Broken City'.
It all starts interestingly enough, with Crowe impressive as a sleazy mayor, but, as the investigation narrative rambles on, Hughes' film begins to resemble a pilot episode for a middling TV cop show. The plot, based around a corrupt real estate deal, is tiresome and cliched. Do we really need another property deal story-line? 'Chinatown' has a lot to answer for. If you're one of the supposedly millions of people who watch every incarnation of 'Law & Order' and 'CSI', this will undoubtedly satisfy your tastes. Those of us yearning for a thriller with a modicum of originality will struggle with its blandness.
The story follows ex-cop turned private investigator Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) who is having major troubles in his life financially and personally. Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) offers his $10,000 to find out who his wife has been cheating on him with, and in his investigation he learns dark secrets about the mayor.
The plot disguises itself behind great actors that make the story actually feel interesting, but at the end I realized what a simple minded and pointless story I had just seen. The story doesn't do any harm and I really was never bored during the film, but it just seemed like I could predict how the movie would play out and that the trailer spoils way too much of the story. I enjoy films about corruption and greed, but sadly this film uses old material that has been done many times before and it just really bugged me. However, many people are really going to enjoy this film because they most likely will not be as critical or harsh on films like this like I am. So if you are a casual movie watcher than I urge you to see this film and make your own opinion of what you think. Many critics have agreed with me that the script is the thing that holds the film down and from taking any real punches. We also have some pointless sub lots about the main protagonist and his girlfriend and a drinking problem, and they really just never take any time to make these storylines even matter. This script was written by Brian Tucker, and he is a first time writer so I can tell that we aren't dealing with somebody with any experience. The characters don't really make any strides and I never really found myself caring about any of them. This was an unmemorable story and characters, and although the script shows some interesting moments, its end result is nothing to get anxious about.
The cast has some of the biggest names in Hollywood, and in my opinion their talents are really wasted here. Mark Wahlberg is an incredible actor, he has proven this to me many times and its very rare I have seen him give a below average performance in a film. Back in 1997 when he starred in "Boogie Nights," and I could tell this great actor was going to go places, but this film isn't what I had in mind. He gives the character a lot more depth and personality than he should've had, and it's thanks to Wahlberg's great talents as an actor. He never loses focus and I always love to see him on the big screen just stealing the show, and in the future I hope to see him return to the greatness I know he has in him. Russell Crowe is fantastic and intimidating as always, and this Oscar-winner just brilliantly takes a boring character and makes him much more interesting. Crowe always brings his A-game and he and Wahlberg just bring the best scenes in the film when they are talking with each other. Catherine Zeta-Jones really just needs to make a change in her career, because performances like this make me disrespect her with each new film I see of her. She just has no real purpose in this film and her performance was laughable, so I just tried to ignore her. With the exception of Jones, this cast truly is the highlight of this movie and really is the main reason to see it.
Broken City could've been some great crime thriller with a great story with a great cast, but instead we will just have to settle with what we are given. I hate predictable movies with a passion, and Broken City is a pure example of that. I mean even from the trailer I guessed how the film would end up, but I guessed that the script would pull some strings and trick us with some big surprise ending, well it doesn't. This film is as straight forward as it looks and you won't be getting anything shocking or life changing. I wasn't hoping for a masterpiece when I saw this film, but I certainly wasn't expecting this. The main problem I had when I thought about this film is that it wasn't a bad movie, except it wasn't a good one either. I thought about how I liked the cast but how I didn't like the script, I also compared it to other crime films and it didn't measure up to those, and finally I asked myself if I liked the movies and all I could answer with was "maybe." So as you can see this film was a mixed bad for me, but I still would not recommend it to people who are hoping for a great storyline because you will not find it here. However, if you want to see Wahlberg and Crowe at the top of their game and just stealing every scene, then you should check this film out. Allen Hughes should stick to directing with his brother, because alone he just felt lazy and out of ideas. This wasn't anything new or memorable, but I was entertained from start to finish so Broken City ended up being a decent time at the movies.
While he's not as strong as he typically is when backed by his brother, Albert, Allen Hughes (What kind of black names are these?) provides moments of intrigue throughout this film as a stand-alone storyteller, but more often than not, he gets to be a bit overambitious and carried away with his noble intentions, never getting the film so overblown that you end up repulsed by self-righteousness, atmosphere has its overbearing moments of lapse in subtlety that are bound to distance you a bit in the while. Whether it's becase they cheese things up a bit or because they simply shake genuineness too much in storytelling, Hughes' overblown moments in storytelling disengage just enough to wear on your patience at times with overambition that would have perhaps been settled down a bit if Hughes didn't have so much material thinness to compensate for. Like Hughes' direction, Brian Tucker's script isn't too messy, and even has its share of high points, yet rarely takes the risks that Hughes' storytelling sometimes takes a bit too thoroughly, thinning out expository depth in characterization and, yes, even plotting. Like I said, there are high points in Tucker's writing, and they almost always pertain to plotting intricacies that reinforce engagement value, but when Tucker makes a mistake, as he all too often does, structural layers thin out into an almost meanderingly repetitious formula that makes its lazy spots all the worse through what might be the final product's biggest issue: genericism. When the film isn't figuring out some form of compensation, for its conventionalism, it's hitting almost laughably familiar tropes, crafting character types and manufactured conflicts that we've seen so often time and again that, by this time, you'd be hard pressed not to see where the worn path is heading. If this film is anything, it's almost shamelessly predictable, being not too much more than just a formulaic and rather thin, when not overambitious piece of wood on the crime-thriller pile. With that said, if you remember nothing else about this film, it's likely to be that it is, in fact, enjoyable, regardless of its many shortcomings and conventions, which are ultimately faught back just enough for a decent final product to emerge, even though certain areas in its concept promises more than just decency.
Okay, maybe this project's story concept doesn't promise a final product that is all that good, because there are certain thin spots and conventions that just can't be washed away from this film that is so heavily driven by hiccups in storytelling, yet the filmmakers' overambition is understandable, as there is some meat to this tale, overexplored though it may be, as reflected by undeniable high notes in the breathing of life into this film's potential, even in the writing departments. Again, Brian Tucker's script is hardly all that strong, being more thin and formulaic than it probably should be, but not so beaten that it falls flat, having just enough decent notes to keep you from falling all that far out, when not unveiling the occasional high note that actually pulls you, especially when it comes to plotting intricacies. Like I said, it's hard not to see where this basic plot is heading, but there are moments in Tucker's story structuring that haven't gotten the appreciation that they deserve as components to complexities that, while sometimes a touch undercooked, if not actually kind of convoluted, are bound to ignite a certain degree of intrigue, augmented by talents outside of the writing department, including the onscreen ones whose skill is challenged only so much by Tucker's often a bit overly safe efforts. There's little in the way of acting material here, but this is still a star-studded cast whose members have earned stardom for a reason, and sure enough, more appreciate needs to be directed as this film's acting department, with Mark Wahlberg being, well, Mark Wahlberg, and by extension, fairly charming, with the occasional strong dramatic note, while such other talents as Kyle Chandler, Jeffrey Wright and Barry Pepper deliver their own strong moments, and Russell Crowe, of course, steals the show and reminds us for the first time in a while of his being one of today's great actors, for although Crowe isn't given the material to be all-out great, he is excellent, with a chillingly effective charisma and subtly layered atmosphere that breathes more genuineness into the honest-seeming, but truly corrupt force of power character type than Brian Tucker's script does, and makes him an antagonist who is arguably more than this film deserves. Crowe is unevenly used, so don't expect to have too much time to enjoy his upstanding efforts, yet his and his fellow cast members' strongest moments really spark engagement value that they consistently, to one degree or another, supplement, much like high spots in the direction department. The film's issues are impossible to deny, yet their thorough emphasis would decidedly be softened if director Allen Hughes didn't pump this project with so much desperate ambition, something that Hughes will, in fact, fulfill at times, not so thoroughly that you can easily forgive the final product's mistakes, but certainly effective enough to replenish your investment and keep you from driftin too far away from things. At the very least, Hughes delivers on entertainment value that isn't exactly rich, and certainly doesn't fully make up for the substance shortcomings in the final product, but still stands as consistent enough to sustain your attention, and often direct it toward the other strengths, which go into making this film decent, in spite of its many flaws.
To piece things back together, Allen Hughes' atmospheric has overblown spells that thin out subtlety, while Brian Tucker's often rather restrained script thins out depth into repetition, while bombarding the film with genericisms that bland the final product up as kind of underwhelming, maybe even kind of forgettable, which isn't to say that you can't enjoy the film while you're in the moments, as there are enough strong performances - especially that of the unevenly used, but ultimately highly effective Russell Crowe - and enough high points in direction and writing to spark the entertainment value that does about as much as anything in making "Broken City" a decent, if fairly flawed and formulaic thriller that keeps you going throughout its course more often than not.
2.5/5 - Fair
The script, pitting an ex-cop against a corrupt Mayor, has faults in that it doesn't seem to weave an intricate plot strong enough to sustain its heavy-handed themes, and instead seems to opt for more formulaic ways of solving itself. Still, where it fails on plot, it seems to have a better time with dialogue. There were a number of dialogue exchanges which felt well-realized, with better-than-average uses of in-movie political punditry (some of what was said actually seemed like it may come from a politician, unlike many of today's movies).
Mark Wahlberg manages to bring a lot to the role, anchoring it with charisma, and bringing a lot of intensity (thankfully this time in tune with the tone of the film) to each scene he's in. Russell Crowe is also strong, albeit with a rather dialed down performance. Some of the other cast members seemed under-utilized, however, notably Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jeffrey Wright.
What the film ultimately gets right is an atmospheric tone, a consistent level of engagement, and enjoyable performances. The plot isn't nearly as dumb as many films of this ilk, but it's certainly not the smartest of political noir films. It lacks the polish and sophistication to make it great and particularly memorable, but for what it is, it works.
In this R-rated political thriller, an ex-cop in a city rife with corruption (Wahlberg) trails the wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) of the mayor (Crowe) only to find himself embroiled in a larger scandal.
After developing an above average CV with his brother, Albert (Menace II Society, From Hell, The Book of Eli), Allen Hughes goes it alone with a lot of skill but little style. Still, everything runs like clockwork and he cranks out some respectably pot-boiling scenes. Working from Brian Tucker's semi-decent script, Wahlberg, Crowe, and Zeta-Jones stay firmly in their wheelhouse without breaking a sweat.
Bottom line: The City that sometimes sleeps.