Hi, Bryan Here….
I was majorly impressed with Allen Hughes of the Hughes brothers ‘Broken City‘. I’ve seen a lot of political crime dramas before, but none like this. This particular story dives into the deep dark corners of politics and the police force in New York City at the end of a big mayoral election. I’m calling it now. Brian Tucker’s debut screenplay deserves at least an Oscar nomination for next year. This multi layered drama and its intense characters made this film shine above the rest in its genre.
We focus on the trail end of a mayoral election campaign between the incumbent Mayor Hostetler (Russel Crowe) and the new young and rich opponent Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), who both are trying to win the people of New York over housing and tax issues. However there are a lies, betrayals, murders, and other atrocious acts of violence and crime that riddle this complex story.
We see the film through the eyes of Detective Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg), who was forced to quit the police force by Mayor Hostetler several years ago due to a crime scene gone wrong. Now present day during the tail end of the new mayoral race, Taggart has opened a Private Investigative practice and works with his assistant Katy (Alona Tal). Business is very good for Taggart, though his clients haven’t been paying him on time, and he is owed over $40k in completed work, or else he might have to shit down his practice. Much to his fortune, Mayor Hostetler calls Taggart and hires him to take pictures of his wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and find out who she is having an affair with. Taggart accepts the job in that the Mayor has just given him more than what he is owed from all of his clients.
From here on out, we are led into a dark territory that seems to fall under the noir category as we find clue after clue that adds another twist to the story and we find out it wasn’t just an affair the mayor’s wife was having. I’ve never seen a film where every character hates one another. Sure, Taggart and his assistant work well together, but there is not a scene that goes by with them together where she doesn’t call him an “asshole.” And we don’t only get the relationships between politicians here, but each character has a family too, which all seem to have a high level of hatred and violence for one another.
The script is very well done, with quick, smart dialogue that is fresh and new. Plus we get a glimpse of each characters strengths and weaknesses, which showcase just how well each character was thought out. Wahlberg did an amazing job, which I think might be his best work since ‘Boogie Nights‘. He shows what a tortured soul he is and how he wants to do good, even if it’s his downfall. Truly remarkable. And Crowe’s performance is perfectly played out as a charming and witty politician with a very sinister undertone. Plus his New York accent is very good and believable. Zeta-Jones’ character probably has the most depth and mystery surrounding her. She plays it perfectly, never knowing what side she is on. Unfortunately, she receives little screen time, but when she’s on, she’s golden.
If you’re looking for an action crime movie, this probably isn’t it, although it has a few very rough scenes with violence and a small car chase, but this film mostly relies on smart dialogue, two-faced characters, and surprises at every turn to keep you on the edge of your seat, which it does from start to finish. Usually, the films that are released in January are sub-par, but ‘Broken City‘ breaks that tradition. Highly recommended.