New Release Review - Broken City

Directed by: Allen Hughes
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper

A down on his luck private detective is hired by the Mayor of New York to investigate his wife's adultery.

When the 16 year old sister of his girlfriend is raped and murdered, New York cop Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) shoots dead the man responsible, covering it up as an act of self defense. Though he is exonerated, he loses his job and sets up a private detective agency. Seven years later, Mayor Nick Hostetler hires Taggart to provide him with evidence of his wife's infidelity. When Taggart is approached by Hostetler's wife Cathleen (Zet-Jones) who makes him a counter offer to drop the case, it soon becomes apparent that he is being used as a pawn in a political power-play.
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.
5/10
Broken City (2013) on IMDb 6.2/10


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