Despite a strong cast of Mark Wahlberg as a beat up cop and Russell Crowe as a scheming politician, Broken City is derivative, meandering and obsolete from start to end. Director Allen Hughes, who made the excellent The Book of Eli two years ago fails in trying to dole up a modern story involving capitalism, vanity, corruption and murder in NYC and ends up with a hot mess that comes off as a stoner version of the TV series The Wire.
Wahlberg stars as Billy Taggart, a cop who is saved from imprisonment by the Mayor (Crowe); years later as a private detective Billy is asked by the Mayor to take pictures of his adulterous wife (Catherine Zeta Jones). Naturally, nothing is as it seems and the murder of the wife’s lover leads Billy to a much bigger conspiracy spearheaded by the Mayor. Stitched together is an absolutely inconsequential plot point of Bill’s girlfriend (Natalie Martinez) that neither adds anything to the story nor is the least bit interesting to look at, apart from Martinez’s eye popping body. There is also Barry Pepper as an electoral candidate for the Mayor’s post and Jeffery Wright as a cop who seems to curiously side with and antagonize Billy as he pleases.
Hughes and writer Brian Tucker heavily borrow elements from A Perfect Murder and Sidney Lumet’s films, particularly Serpico as Wahlberg’s NYC cop fumbles from the script’s one problem to another. He pitches in his standard issue no nonsense performance while Crowe does a villainous version of the same overweight silver haired bespectacled avatar he had in Inside Man and Body of Lies. It all ends with a predictable twist that was all but given away in the trailers. The biggest twist of the film, however, is the fact that such an obsolescent script was in the prestigious Black List in 2008.
(First published in MiD Day)