A former disgraced cop named Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg – Ted) is called into the Mayor of New York’s office to help him with a special problem. Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe – Gladiator) believes his wife is cheating on him so pays Billy to trail her and get answers. But as Billy starts his investigation, it becomes clear that nothing is what it seems.
Broken City is a solid watch but it fancies itself as being quite bold. In truth, political corruption isn’t as shocking as it once was and without that impact, Broken City joins the ranks of every other drama. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly an entertaining film and the suspense builds up tension very well but there is little wiggle room here. Before long, you know exactly how this is going to play out and that’s a shame, even despite the stellar casting choices.
Mark Wahlberg continues to build on his current momentum with a good central performance as Billy Taggart. Wahlberg knows how to play the everyman better than most so it’s very easy to side with him during the film. Russell Crowe, in the meantime, knocks it out of the park as Mayor Hostetler. Loosely based on a real-life politician, Crowe clearly has fun with the role and is Broken City’s shining light.
The supporting cast all put in a shift too. Catherine Zeta-Jones is probably the pick of the bright bunch as the Mayor’s wife who is clearly hiding something. As the story unravels it’s her character that becomes central and Zeta-Jones handles the complexities of the plot with pose and grace.
Elsewhere, Jeffrey Wright is his usual caricature self, Barry Pepper lends the film some reliability and Kyle Chandler continues to impress in every film he cameos in. Griffin Dunne is excellent in a very small role as is Sinister’s James Ransone. Alona Tal turns heads yet again, this time as Wahlberg’s personal assistant and she easily steals all of her scenes.
The city of New York is a major character in the film and the locations used do hold a certain weight too. In a city that’s overused in film, Broken City still manages to make New York look great – even in the downtrodden parts of the story.
Broken City tries to be clever but in the end it’s just a generic political crime drama dressed up well. With a collective cast all doing their best, Broken City is an enjoyable watch but it won’t stay with you for very long and provides little in the way of invention.