Broken City Review

Film Still
  • Broken City film still


It’s Mark Wahlberg versus scumbag politicos in this decidedly limp and preachy election day farrago.

As Italy faces the inauspicious prospect of a hung parliament after failing to decide between a gaffe-prone sex scandal-magnet and a fuzzy-faced stand-up comic, its people can at least take solace in the fact that their political landscape looks positively utopic when compared to that in Allen Hughes' Broken City.

One week before a landmark New York City mayoral election there's nothing to choose between the two main candidates, trust-fund yuppie Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper) and demonstrably crooked re-election hopeful Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe). With Valliant's campaign gaining momentum ahead of the third and final televised debate, Hostetler calls upon a one-time acquaintance to help consolidate his waning public image.

Enter discharged NYPD golden boy turned low-rent PI Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg), who's offered a princely sum to catch Hostetler's supposedly adulterous wife Cathleen (a criminally underused Catherine Zeta Jones) with her knickers down. What he uncovers is far more incriminating than your average extra-marital fling, however, as NYC's First Lady is seen cavorting with Valliant's trusted campaign manager (Kyle Chandler). Unbeknownst to Taggart, the big picture is about to become a whole lot murkier.

And so this anti-fairy tale of New York shifts into gear, as Wahlberg proceeds to punch, kick and wisecrack his way to the truth while Hostetler and Jeffrey Wright's surly Police Commissioner toss a bucket-load of Red Herrings in his general direction. Much to his (and our) prolonged disaffection.

It's difficult to comprehend how Broken City found its way onto the 2008 industry Black List of the best unproduced scripts, so stark is the lack of originality and cohesion in Brian Tucker's debut treatment. Still, though it's sluggishly plotted and needlessly complicated as these things go, the occasional flash of hard-boiled conflict goes some way in making up for the limp twists and clichéd monologuing about knowing which wars to fight and which ones to walk away from.


The first film since The Book Of Eli from one half of the Hughes Brothers.



Top cast, terrible script.


In Retrospect

File alongside Body Of Lies, The Sentinel, Fair Game, etc.

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