Broken City – 1/5 Movie Reviews by Ry!

Broken City – 1/5 – January films; anyone who is anyone that watches or follows film trends know, that this is the month that big studios do two things:

1. Prop up their Oscar films

2. Dump all the films that are either terrible or aren’t worth marketing.

Broken city is one of those January films that fall in the latter category; it isn’t even close to being a great film, let alone an Oscar quality one.  This movie isn’t the terrible films of years past, but it really isn’t good.  What we have here is a film that tries to prop up the ideals of corruption in government, but fails to bring across a clear meaning or story because of horrendous acting, messy directing and an overall lack of a good viewing experience.

The Premise of the film:

In the City of New York, injustice is the name of the game.  Stuck in this mess of politics, truths and slander is ex-cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg).  After being double-crossed and framed, he decides to seek redemption and revenge by the city’s most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe).

With the likes of Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg, as well as supporting characters (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Barry Pepper), you would think their class, charisma or charm could carry a film riddled with a lack of story development, generic script and fragmented direction.  Sadly, these actors/actress fail to prop up this film passed its follies.  When it comes to the main players (Crowe and Wahlberg), they play common typecast characters.  You have the Mayor, played by Russell Crowe, who is an obvious complexion of a generic double-crossing politician.  With all the power, money and political sway, he will stop at nothing to be re-elected and keep power over New York City.  To do this, he uses the forgotten past of Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) against him to try and secure the votes.  What really is a falter to Crowe’s character is a lack of convincing, that he really is the New York Mayor.  Through dialogue, he provides enough control of scenes, but doesn’t give a layer of believability as a mayor.  What you see on screen is the empowering of his general off-screen personality.  This flaw makes you notice the one-dimensional side, causing the character to not be the strong antagonist he is prop up to be.  When it comes to Mark Wahlberg’s Billy Taggart, he gives us someone who has his own scars.  Trying to get on and live beyond his past actions, he tries to keep an honest moral compass, but is dumfounded to the situations that he becomes a part of in the film.  He believes what he is told to believe, but is oblivious to the facts in the shadows.  The ‘goofy’ attitude makes the ‘seriousness’ of his character feel comical.  When his bout of ‘alcoholism’ comes into play, you see him change the tone of the character and begin a case of redemption and revenge.  Wahlberg does a slightly better job than Crowe, bringing us a slightly believable person, but doesn’t add anything but his own antics to the role.  As mentioned above, the supporting characters are just as bad.  Zeta-Jones plays the wife of the mayor, and Barry Pepper plays the challenger to the Mayor’s electoral race, Jack Valliant.  Both are decent in providing some semblance of angst, anguish and depth to the characters through dialogue, but they become obvious plot devices as the film moves along its jagged path.  Naming the other actors/actress in the other roles wouldn’t suffice anything.  They are obvious plot devices, and shouldn’t be acknowledged to having any importance regarding character development.

The direction in this film is terrible.  I don’t think I have seen this bad of direction in a film in quite some time.   You have this ‘encompassing’ theme of corrupted politics (an overused theme), that doesn’t take a foothold at all because of disjointed subplots. In those subplots, you have Billy Taggart’s history with the police force and alcoholism, the ‘affair’ of the mayor’s wife, as well as the police commissioner’s revenge schemes.  All these combine to make the tone of the films ‘hidden dealings’ and ‘criminal drama’ elements overrun each other.  From scene to scene, these plot points jump back and forth, causing a lack of narrative to string ‘what is the point’ of these things to the overarching theme of corruption.  This causes a lack of empathy for certain aspects of the film that are supposed to be ’emotional involved’.  An example is when Taggart’s alcoholism makes a comeback.  You see it has some affect on the character and story, but there is no development or connection, which causes it to become a faltered plot point.  Another flaw in the directing is that plot spoilers are given away within the first fifteen minutes of the film.  This is a dagger to any film, because it causes a lack of audience involvement and tension buildup towards the climax.  The predictability factor made the film unbearable, and you feel like you’re wasting your time.

I could mention the visuals, but it is just another generic backdrop to any typical modern city faced with criminal drama elements, as well as political involvement.  Score, what score?

Overall, this film should definitely be passed by.  There aren’t any redeeming qualities in the film.  If you want to check it out, because you’re a fan of the actors above, then go for it.  You have been warned.


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