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BROKEN CITY (director: Allen Hughes; screenwriter: Brian Tucker; cinematographer: Ben Seresin; editor: Cindy Mollo; music: Atticus Ross/Claudia Sarne/Leo Ross; cast: Mark Wahlberg (Billy Taggart), Russell Crowe (Mayor Nicolas Hostetler), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Cathleen Hostetler), Jeffrey Wright (Colin Fairbanks), Barry Pepper (Jack Valliant), Kyle Chandler (Paul Andrews), Alona Tal (Katy), Natalie Martinez (Natalie); Griffen Dunne (Sam Lancaster), James Ransone (Todd Lancaster); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Randall Emmett/Mark Wahlberg/Stephen Levinson/Arnon Milchan/Teddy Schwarzman/Allen Hughes/Remington Chase; 20th Century Fox; 2013)
“Misfires on all cylinders.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Just a dreadful wannabe “Chinatown” ripoff B film. Director Allen Hughes (“The Book of Eli”/”Menace II Society“/”From Hell”), the twin brother of director Alfred, directs as a solo a busy pic with many plot twists that misfires on all cylinders. It’s a vapid pic about a corrupt NYC mayor, injustice, double-crosses and shallow compromised characters that’s filled with cliches and some really unconvincing acting from its first-rate stars. The trite dialogue can be attributed to Brian Tucker.

Russell Crowe is the arrogant oily villanous Mayor Nicolas Hostetler, locked in a bitter NYC re-election campaign with wealthy reformer city councilman Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), and because the race is close and it’s eight days before the election the mayor hires disgraced forced to resign ex-cop-turned-private-eye Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) to dig up dirt on his unfaithful trophy wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones). After handing over photos of her with Valliant’s campaign manager Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler) and handsomely paid $50,000, Paul is murdered in the street near his Greenwich Apartment and the boyish Catholic naive Billy decides he was murdered not over adultery but about info he had about a corrupt city real estate deal that the mayor is involved in. Billy seeks personal redemption as he now decides to bring down the venal mayor and heroically rips up the check. To get evidence of the big-time scam real-estate deal the mayor is involved in, Billy, if you can believe because I can’t, hooks up with the unlikable smug black police commissioner (Jeffrey Wright), the one who forced Billy to resign seven years ago from the force, to arrest the mayor. The film has a few more clumsy twists up its sleeve that have nothing to do with the plot before it ends just as coldly as are its murder story, its love stories and all its characters portrayed. It brings up subjects like human and gay rights, political corruption, and public housing funding, but has little to say that resonates or does it leave much of an emotional impact with its run-of-the mill cop story melodramatics.

The Big Apple locations were shot in New Orleans.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”