SCORECARD:Plot 9/10 Acting 8/10 Representation of Genre 7/10 Cinematography 8/10 Effects/Environment 9/10 Captivity 9/10 Logical consistency 6/10 Overall awesomeness 7/10 Creativity 8/10 Soundtrack/Music 7/10
Hollywood had a slow week. If you visited Rotten Tomatoes or another fellow review site then you probably noticed that critics weren’t too hyped on any of the new releases. The top two grossing movies, I’m sure, will be The Last Stand with Arnold Schwarzenegger (**cough RETIRE cough**) and the film I went to see instead – Broken City. Good choice.
Broken City takes place in fictional New York City in 2012, right in the midst of election season. The film opens up seven years before 2012 with a slow-motion shot of police officer William James Taggart, played by Mark Wahlberg, pointing a pistol while the camera pans to his feet where a young teen, gangbanger lies dead with bullet holes through his body and forehead. No words. Just slow motion images. I love films that draw you in right away with silent mystery – gets the brain pumpin’ fast. That scene gives way to a court case where Taggart is on trial for “murder” of this youth. Taggart and his council tout self-defense and eventually Taggart walks. Meanwhile, the mayor of New York, Nicholas Hostetler, played by Russell Crowe, and the chief of police, Carl Fairbanks, played by Jeffery Wright, discuss the questionable heroics/atrocities of Taggart and some evidence that was never introduced in court due to “misplacement” on the part of NYPD. Ooooo – more mystery!!! Taggart is brought to Hostetler and Fairbanks immediately following his acquittal to be congratulated and then, fired. The streets wanted Taggart’s head for shooting down a kid and the Mayor seemed to have something up his sleeve for this now ex-cop. Seven years pass, Taggart starts his own private investigation office, the Mayor is up for reelection and all things seem to be as normal as it gets in New York. While Taggart tries to keep his successful, but unprofitable P.I. career afloat he receives an unexpected call from none other than Mayoral incumbent, Hostetler. Soon Taggart is following Hostetler’s wife, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones under suspicion that she is having an affair. But it doesn’t take long for this Mrs. Hostetler’s infidelity to evolve into something much more diabolical and dangerous. There are more to the Mayor’s motives and Taggart sets out to find out what while risking his life.
You get the gist. Lots of mystery, just the right amount of action and, my personal man-crush, Mark Wahlberg , all make Broken City an all-around solid film. It had been a while since I’d seen a really well done political-crime thriller and Broken City was a breath of fresh air. It was also nice to wash off the disappointment of Gangster Squad released the week before – yuck. This film maintained a great balance throughout. Wahlberg played his usual character – a total badass with street smarts and a touch of “big-picture” insight. He does well to complement Crowe’s character, who comes off as how I’m sure most of us see politicians – two faced, thieving and arrogant. The two of them are what really make this movie awesome. I imagine there are movie-goers out there who might complain that there wasn’t enough action or that the plot didn’t make perfect sense (more on that in a moment). I have to disagree with those folks. I was completely sucked into the plot and guessing at what was going to happen next. Explosions and gunshots are not always needed to make a crime film juicy. The suit and tie affairs were just as riveting as Mark Wahlberg kicking in the door to some sucker’s house followed by a good beat down. I also have to give props for Jeffery Wright’s performance (you’ll probably know him as US Agent Felix Leiter from the most recent round of James Bond flicks). His portrayal of a kinda-crooked cop that, deep down, really just wants what’s best for his city was a homerun. I also especially like the last little twist thrown into the film. I won’t say more than that – you’ll have to see it yourself for details! Overall, this film was well conceived and nicely executed.
Now, no single film is perfect… well except one (**cough The Empire Strikes Back cough**)… and Broken City is no exception. The movie hits it mark in nearly every single category except the one that matters most – consistency!!! Without giving away any critical plot twists – the film creators didn’t adequately explain the big mystery Wahlberg’s character spent the whole movie trying to unravel. Viewers weren’t left completely high and dry, but we didn’t get the full closure I think was necessary to make this film truly superb. I walked out of the theater with questions about the legality of certain issues and occurrences. And not just minor, or developmental issues and occurrences, but the ones that this entire story is based upon!! I’m no private eye or detective, but I’ve seen The Wire and that pretty much makes me a crime expert – I have a right to be skeptical. Another downside to this film is the “in-between” as I like to call it. A good chunk of this film was dedicated to filler and focus on events that just flat out didn’t have to be there. Usually that makes for a terrible movie. But upon serious reflection I’m actually really glad they were there. I might even argue that they were necessary as it provided depth and realness to the characters I was watching on screen. Or maybe it’s my Mark Wahlberg crush… Who’s to say?! Some of it may have been more drawn out than was really needed, but without any of it this movie would have been much worse for the wear.
Hush Comics gives Broken City a 78% on its awesomeness scale. It’s a great example of a crime, thriller done right. It’s full of mystery and excitement and contains real, down to earth conflict that is truly hard to find in films nowadays. I recommend this one while it’s still in theaters, especially if your other option is Gangster Squad. Trust me – I’m doing you a favor. Until next time Hushers!
Written by Taylor Lowe