This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 17th March 2013
Wahlberg and Crowe! Big names touting high hopes for a movie that turns out to have an embarrassingly low IQ.
Directed by Allen Hughes, whose most recent film is an 8-minute short starring Eninem and Dr Dre, Broken City plays out like a Wednesday night DVD rental from the bargain bin. A corrupt mayor. A shady police commissioner. A disgraced cop reduced to making his living sorting through life’s trash as a private investigator.
The novice screenplay boasts a paper-thin plot as Mark Wahlberg’s emotionally-burdened Billy Taggart (nothing like as gritty and interesting as his Scottish namesake), is employed by Russell Crowe’s mayor to follow his possibly duplicitous wife (a mercifully underused Catherine Zeta-Jones). The scene in which the mayor gives the PI his orders is shot with the camera swirling relentlessly around the actors as they spout every cliché in the book. Perhaps this is an attempt to convey drama that is otherwise completely lacking in the lame script, but instead, the aesthetic fail may just make you feel sick.
Key plot exposition is relayed by phonecall, with the obligatory signposting: “But Billy – be careful“. Quite why the leads got involved is anyone’s guess, but the heroes of Boogie Nights and The Insider have plummeted in my esteem. Perhaps they just can’t resist a dare.