I've become a fan of Mark Wahlberg over the years. It's fantastic that many have finally gotten past the whole Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch persona that could have been a career ender when it came to acting. The truth is that Wahlberg has shown he has the chops to perform in a dramatic role and make it truly believable. So going into BROKEN CITY I had high hopes.
The movie takes place in New York and opens with Wahlberg as Billy Taggert, a police detective who finds himself in the center of controversy after gunning down a supposed rapist in project area known as Bolton Village. While asked to step down by his superior Taggert is praised by Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe). Even though he leaves the force, the mayor makes sure to let him know he'll keep an eye out for him.
Fast forward seven years later and Taggert is now a private eye with a ton of bills and clients who more often ask for leniency than pay their debt to him. Then one day he gets a call from the mayor to come see him. Hostetler hires Taggert to follow his wife and get any information on her that he can. Is she cheating on him or is something else going on? The mayor isn't saying but Taggert can't refuse the money he's paying him and begins surveillance.
But that surveillance leads to something else going on that is far beyond a simple fling for the mayor's wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The man she meets is tied into the mayoral campaign of Hostetler's main opponent. When that same man is murdered after Taggert passes along the information to Hostetler the entire concept of the film changes from a simple wife having an affair to the complications that go on in an election year.
Along the way we are shown that Taggert has been dating the sister of the woman who was raped by the man he killed in the movie's opening. But things don't go well with the two of them and that portion of the film seems wasted. Another reference to the past isn't though as the mayor holds something over Taggert's head, a piece of hidden evidence that he is using to force Taggert to stick with his plans and follow instructions. Only an honest man could find a way to cut through this and take on the most powerful man in New York.
The cut throat world of behind the scenes back stabbing and manipulation take the forefront in this story and Taggert's decision to either go with the flow or stand up for what is right are found at center stage before the film ends. With so much on the line and with the murder of an innocent man resting on his conscious just what he will do is pretty much a given but then some movies have taken the opposite direction you expect.
So with all this star power as well as the direction of Allen Hughes, half of the brother duo behind hits like THE BOOK OF ELI and FROM HELL, why is it that this movie didn't pull me in and hold me there? Don't get me wrong, it is an entertaining film that delivers the goods, but it just doesn't have that oomph feeling that one would expect with the pedigree involved.
Both Wahlberg and Crowe seem to be walking through their roles without putting something new into them. These characters as portrayed by these actors feel like we've seen them before. Nothing new is added. Sure they do a great job but as a viewer I expect more from an actor than simply sleep walking through a role. Zeta-Jones is wasted in a part that offers her little. That could be a blessing seeing what the others did with their parts.
The movie also has a predictable feel to it, like we know what's coming long before the characters involved do. That may be because films with a story like this have been done before and this one adds little to make it different than the rest. As I stated earlier, this doesn't make it a bad film, it just makes it feel like been there, done that. For Wahlberg and Crowe fans you won't be disappointed. For the rest go in with low expectations and the movie will no doubt satisfy.
Click here to order.