Political corruption seems to belong nowadays on television. Whether it is in crime dramas or cop series, there seems to be no end of avenues to exploit the darker side of politics. Now, it is the basis of a revenge crime thriller starring Mark Whalberg and a smarmy Russell Crowe.
Broken City is set in New York, where NYPD detective-turned-private detective Billy Taggart (Whalberg) is hired by Mayor Nicolas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) to spy on his wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones), only to uncover a plot involving a local community close to Taggart’s past.
At first glance, there is a glimpse of almost stereotypical behaviour against certain community minorities; something that is harshly delivered especially from characters like Crowe’s Hostetler – it just highlights the character’s arrogance and how he sees his supposed voters. Along with slightly too familiar (in other words, predictable) plot and stale dialogue, this represents a wasted opportunity to break the boundaries that modern audiences that have grown accustomed to within the genre. Director Allen Hughes, who previously directed with his brother Albert Hughes in dark and violent films such as From Hell (2001) and The Book of Eli (2010), evidently suffers without the family collaborative creative efforts.
Bless the cast; they work hard to make the most of what is given. Wahlberg’s Taggart attempts to be an engaging character who has the desire to redeem himself, only to reveal a character that is just as flawed like everyone else. Crowe oozes arrogance, personified during an electoral debate, while Zeta-Jones tries to reason her presence by trying to do the right thing.
Overall, Broken City is an average thriller with equally indifferent performances. Even though it is unlikely to break boundaries, its plot twists and ultimately satisfying conclusion are the film’s saving graces.