admin On febbraio - 5 - 2013

Broken City, the review

by Chiara Spagnoli


Broken City’ is a crime drama, that unveils the dark side of the moon of mayorship interacting with the police department.


Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is an NYPD detective who is arrested for the murder of Mikey Tavarez, who raped his girlfriend Natalie Barrow (Natalie Martinez). The movie opens on Taggart’s hectic trial: the situation is quickly solved thank s to Captain Carl Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright), who will ask Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) to bury the evidence against Taggart, who’s murder will be ruled as self-defence, as he will be dismissed by the police department.


The true drama begins seven years later, when Billy is called by Hostler as a private detective to find out who his wife Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is having an affair with. The investigation Taggart carries out, with his assistant Katy Bradshaw (Alona Tal), makes suspicion fall on Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler), the campaign manager of Hostetler's rival in the upcoming elections, Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper). And from here on the actual story takes flight, after a very sloppy construction of premises.


The gawky Cluedo-scavenger-hunt hobbles, as the ‘Broken City’ is tried to be portrayed as the villain that is delivering misleading information. New York City is drenched with confusion and shifting alliances that send our hero-detective offtrack. But the atonement he will face, to redeem his sullied conscience, turns out to be a preposterous do-gooding.


The actors’ performances are quite good, despite Russell Crowe is forced into the role of a stereotypical multisided and crafty politician, Catherine Zeta-Jones has to introspect her woe and anguish as she catwalks as the first lady from one scene to the next, and the protagonist Mark Wahlberg vents out a prism of feelings, from rage to mortification, from aloofness to tenderness, from indifference to concern.


This film marks Allen Hughes' first attempt to direct a solo feature film, without his twin brother Albert, with whom he had co-directed ‘Menace II Society,’ ‘From Hell’ and ‘The Book of Eli.’ The use of the camera definitely tries to give pace to Brian Tucker’s screenplay, that is lacking the audacity of having a flawed hero. The fringes given to Billy Taggart’s character – such as the fact he gave up drinking and will pick it up again throughout the story – are fake weaknesses, which try to make him come through as a multifaceted human being. But the really daring step would have been pushing the character to take unpopular choices for an upright audience’s expectations.


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