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Smarter than You Think, Not as Clever as You Hope
Bob_the_Hobo18 January 2013
Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is a New York city cop who got off on a technicality following his execution of a supposed rapist/murder. Discharged from the force by his Captain (Jeffrey Wright), Taggart is viewed highly by Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) for taking out the trash with a common thug. Seven years later, Hostetler, amidst a re- election battle against golden boy city councilman Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), hires Taggart to find out who is sleeping with his gorgeous wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). As Taggart follows, he uncovers a much larger conspiracy.

In his first solo outing, Allen Hughes (one half of the Hughes brothers that brought us "The Book of Eli") now offers a stylish, dark vision of corruption in New York. The ladies are beautiful and all have something to hide, the men are violent and vicious and the story is ripped out of countless true-to-life headlines. "Broken City" lives up to its name and fires a slug packed with intrigue and intelligence. That doesn't necessarily translate to mean "clever".

The story sold in the trailer is a bit misleading, but perhaps that's the point. Mayor Hostetler's hiring of the true-blue cop Taggart is only a minor segment of a much larger puzzle. It involves cops, businessmen, and politicians in bribery and exploitation with a prize that all but Billy seem to seek: power. Overall that is the film's theme and it more than adequately conveys it. If you understand that and aren't looking for much else, "Broken City" is your ticket.

As I was watching the film I kept thinking that there must have been some significant cutting and re-editing. Perhaps the original cut was too dry so they added in some scenes and cut some to make the film seem more edgy. But it doesn't seem as edgy as it could have been. A number of subplots (for instance Billy's actress girlfriend, or the undeveloped father-son relationship between two of the villains) go nowhere and remain unresolved when the screen goes black. I felt much the same way.

Mark Wahlberg does an excellent job playing Mark Wahlberg, a role he was born to play. Catherine Zeta-Jones is as beautiful and commanding as ever in a role that is too short for the movie. But it is Russell Crowe who devours his scenes with the political intensity I would suppose is necessary for any real Mayor of New York. Even as the script built around Billy lags, Crowe tears apart his role. He shows why he is truly one of the best actors in the business.

The supporting cast of this film are as much a draw as the leads. Jeffrey Wright, the usual supporting character with more power than he lets on, plays the secretive Police Commissioner. His character is introduced as a stock role but ends up being much more. Kyle Chandler has a small role that deserved to be expanded. Barry Pepper, who wasn't even featured in the trailer, is the only actor in the film with the same bravado as Crowe. His scenes, particularly one with Wright and Wahlberg, are indicative of why he should be the one on the poster, now buried in the bottom credits.

Overall "Broken City" kept my attention but left me hungry for more. I suppose that is all you can ask for at the movies. I would take this ride again.
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Unfortunately only in Fiction Mayors Are Investigated and Arrested
claudio_carvalho2 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In New York City, detective Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) goes to court for the murder of the rapist Mikey Tavarez (Luis Tolentino), but the Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) and the Chief of Police Carl Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright) vanish with an important evidence and Billy is declared non-guilty by the judge but he leaves the police department.

Seven years later, Billy is a private detective that lives his girlfriend Natalie Barrow (Natalie Martinez), who is an aspirant actress and the sister of Mikey's victim. His secretary Katy Bradshaw (Alona Tal) is trying to collect part of the debts to save their business.

In the week of the elections, Hostetler summons Billy and offers US$ 50,000 to investigate his wife Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones) that he believes is having a love affair. Billy discovers that Cathleen is meeting Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler), who is the coordinator of the campaign of Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), the opponent of Hostetler and favorite in the election. When Paul is found dead on the street, Billy finds that he had been double-crossed by Hostetler and he decides to investigate the truth behind Paul's murder.

"Broken City" is a great political thriller about a situation that certainly happens in big cities. Mayor Hostetler is evicting people from a residence building and selling the real estate for an underrated value. In Rio, there are mysterious interests from the Powers That Be that change the construction code allowing tall buildings at the seaside streets; or destroy a velodrome and a car racing track in a valuable real estate and intending to construct another in a mined area that belongs to the Brazilian army; or valorize the harbor area with questionable constructions. Unfortunately only in fiction majors are investigated and arrested. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Linha de Ação" ("Action Line")
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Painting by numbers
mannin1118 January 2013
I give this a five for the cast, but a two for the obtuse and predictable script, which inexplicably appeared on the Black List of best unproduced scripts -- in which category it should have remained. In development hell for years, it should at the very least have undergone a major rewrite to simplify the story (which wanders all over the place and becomes dumber by the minute) and raised the tone up out of the gutter. Whichever studio execs placed this on the Black List need to stop sniggering over the dirty words and earn their money by figuring out just what constitutes a good script. Wahlberg is always a pleasure to spend time with but the phoniness of so many of the scenes and the clunkiest car chase ever defeat even his efforts to entertain. So much of this movie is predictable and so many scenes are actors simply going through their paces with inferior material. The gorgeous, gorgeous Catherine Zeta Jones is totally wasted in this piece of dreck. Somewhere in this movie there may originally have been a good idea about corruption in the city. Unfortunately nobody appears to have had the courage to grab it by the throat, beat it into shape and present it to the public with any wit, style or originality. Like it says in the header, this is painting by numbers.
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Great Cast Keeps Weak Story Going
Michael_Elliott21 January 2013
Broken City (2013)

*** (out of 4)

Entertaining but very flawed political thriller about a private eye (Mark Wahlberg) who was thrown off the NYC police force but gets a major job when the Mayor (Russell Crowe) asks him to find out who his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is messing around with. This case is rather easy for the man but soon he realizes that this is just the start of dirty business. BROKEN CITY, as a thriller, really doesn't work because the plot is rather silly. It's especially silly if you start to think about it too long and that's why it's best to just walk into the theater, turn your brain off and enjoy the excellent cast that's offered up here. It's always amazing to see how many great actors they can get for less-than-stellar material but the three leads are excellent as are Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper and Alona Tal. The performances are certainly the reason to check this film out as they help keep the film moving along no matter how many twists and turns get thrown at us. Wahlberg is once again a lot of fun playing the tough guy and has no problem with this. Crowe appears to be having fun with the less than serious role and Zeta-Jones gets a couple nice scenes along the way. I thought Pepper is the one who really stood out playing the man going up against Crowe's character in the upcoming election. Tal was also a breathe of fresh air when she's on screen. An almost unrecognizable Griffin Dunne also plays a supporting part. Director Allen Hughes does a nice job at keeping the film moving at a nice pace but there's still no question that the material just isn't all that strong. I'm not sure if there were countless re-writes or not but the screenplay pretty much hits on every cliché that this lower-quality political thrillers do. The twists and turns aren't all that shocking and neither is the ending. Still, BROKEN CITY remains enjoyable thanks to the cast.
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Top talents only take 'Broken City' so far
Movie_Muse_Reviews19 January 2013
The quality of a corruption-themed political thriller with a star-studded cast always comes down to one thing — the script. Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler and Jeffrey Wright definitely qualify "Broken City" for that category of film, and so all eyes are on rookie screenwriter Brian Tucker.

Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) is a New York City police detective acquitted of killing a man who got off on a rape and murder charge. The mayor (Crowe) and commissioner (Wright) know a bit more, however, and require Taggart to step down. Seven years later, Taggart is a private investigator owed a lot of money that he hasn't seen, so when the mayor comes calling weeks before election day and asks him to find out who his wife is sleeping with, he quickly agrees. But when he completes the job he finds he's been double-crossed and set up as an accomplice to murder.

The plot is most definitely neo-noir, but the direction of Allen Hughes (one half of the Hughes brothers, the duo behind "The Book of Eli" and "From Hell") provides it with none of that style or class. But visual flare becomes irrelevant when your audience is too preoccupied with making sense of a convoluted plot.

Tucker weaves an intriguing network of deception that keeps you from trusting any character in the movie, including even Taggart, but there are too many pieces, including barely introduced characters, that comprise the hidden truth in the story. Consequently, the film relies on heavy- handed dialogue and formula way more often that it should. Tucker tries to make it so every component of the film connects in some way, yet to do so he falls back on clichés.

A lot of the dialogue is also steered toward set-ups for sharp one-liners. These veteran actors know how to work lines of this contrived nature, but because the rest of this film doesn't do its job, these quotes elicit chuckles more than satisfied smirks.

Of all the talents, Crowe gives the film's best performance as the shadowy Nick Hostetler, who despite preferring to keep his own hands clean, comes off as though at any moment he might roll his sleeves up and punish someone. Considering the trailer casts him as the bad guy, it's impressive that you'll like him for as much of the run time as you do.

The script attempts to paint Taggart as a complex main character of moral ambiguity, but he just sort of drifts in and out of likability instead. Few actors do the "man on a mission" better than Wahlberg does, but Taggart is saddled with a penchant for violence that crops up sporadically and he's also a recovering alcoholic. And that's in addition to his past transgressions.

The conflict plays over a mayoral race between Hostetler and Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), which gets a lot of play despite factoring minimally into the main narrative. It's part of the many cogs necessary to make the plot function, but it mostly results in the spouting of political rhetoric that just makes the story all the murkier.

"Broken City" works reasonably well in individual pieces and scenes, but as part of the master plan, they're drawn together almost haphazardly, with some crucial details cutting across the screen in the blink of an eye. Even so, the resolution all comes down to some really simple and even cliché plot devices. There are no late twists or revelations that really turn the tide; the biggest one gets nullified almost instantly.

Any film can flash some big names and load up on reputable faces, but in this genre, script is king. Hughes is practically invisible as a director, so Tucker's work is exposed all the more. Some strong acting really bolsters the film's strengths, but it only goes as high as the structure it's built upon, and that structure has enough kinks that "Broken City" only delivers marginal satisfaction.

~Steven C

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We Broke this city on Mark and Crowe
ferguson-620 January 2013
Greetings again from the darkness. The best Political crime dramas are complex films with multiple intersecting sub-plots, filled with stylish mis-direction and intense wordplay and back-stabbing between good guys and bad. What doesn't work is obvious. Especially obvious to the point where the audience is way ahead of the earnest, but clumsy protagonist. Luckily for director Allen Hughes (working solo without his brother Albert for the first time), he has stacked the film with a wonderful cast which makes it somewhat entertaining despite its major flaws.

Mark Wahlberg plays (what else?) a streetwise guy/cop/detective who tries to do the right thing but always seems to end up with the short straw. Russell Crowe is in fine form as the megalomaniac NYC mayor who plays dirty, but knows how to sell his stuff to the people ... even as he schemes to do great wrong. Their paths cross twice and neither time turns out so great for Wahlberg.

As for the rest of the cast, Barry Pepper is miscast as Crowe's mayoral opponent; Jeffrey Wright is intriguing as the Police Commissioner seemingly playing both sides against the middle; Catherine Zeta-Jones is Crowe's most unhappy and disloyal wife; Kyle Chandler plays Pepper's campaign manager (and evidently more); and Griffin Dunne is a rich Crowe supporter and knee deep in the evil scheme. Also interesting is Alona Tai as Wahlberg's wise-cracking assistant.

While no details will be spilled here, there is a fun exchange during the debate between Crowe and Pepper, and well, the movie is just at its best when Crowe is on screen. Wahlberg's character is pretty much the same he has played a dozen times prior, but it seems the real issue is with first time screenwriter Brian Tucker. He is just overrun with ideas and because of that, most go undeveloped. A script clean-up from a screen veteran could have turned this one around. Still, if you have seen all the Oscar nominated films and are looking for a watchable January release, you could do worse. Just try not to think too much!
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Unconvincing stuff, but well made it seemed to me
secondtake31 December 2013
Broken City (2013)

A familiar zone that gets freshened up with a fast plot, some great acting, and a series of twists that never ends.

At first this seems to be a cop story, then a cop story involving the mayor as he runs for office. The mayor is played with such conviction and charm by Russell Crowe you end up rooting for him even as the plot clearly turns against him. But more important is the cop, vilified and with dubious ethics, played by Mark . He's tough, easily duped, and eventually principled—depending on what your principles are.

Beyond the plot (which I'll get to) and the clashing of big personalities (which works), what makes this movie tick is how well it's made. Those prosaic things like editing and photography really meld and take on a force that sucks you in without exaggeration or affectation. It's a straight ahead film in many ways, but invested with intensity and solidity enough to make it really commanding, despite some holes in the plot.

Why the unfavorable response by so many? This might be helpful before diving in. The key is some kind of believability. Wahlberg plays a troubled cop in a troubled relationship (which is a cliché of these kinds of movies), and then becomes a low level detective taking sneaky pictures of adulterous situations. And as a photography myself I have to say this part of the movie is rotten stupid—the way he hides is one thing (bad) but the way he uses his camera is just silly. And getting results (which we are told about later) that are impossible given what we were shown earlier.

Then there is the motivation behind it al, which I can't reveal (and which won't be clear until the end, if even quite then). Since the movie has no real tricks up its sleeve, it depends on a convincing series of events, which it doesn't quite have. The events taken one by one are bold and well done, sometimes very well done, but they don't quite accelerate into a coherent, gripping plot.

For those who watch movies for what happens (the action, the plot), this will be a struggle. But if you also get into the ambiance, the acting, and the visuals, you might give it a shot. I watched it straight through and was interested all along. Maybe I kept holding out hope that it would gel by the end (it does not), but if that's what it takes to watch it, give that a try!
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Entertaining, yet still average.
michael-j-chapman199719 April 2013
Broken City has many flaws, yet I was still surprisingly entertained the entire way through. Russell Crowe was the highlight of the movie, not a surprise, as he's one of the best actors of his generation. Mark Wahlberg was pretty good too, although he wasn't very likable. An election's happening, Crowe is the dirt bag of a mayor, and an election's coming up. Although it seems Crowe was supposed to be the bad guy, his opponent wasn't likable at all, and I was rooting for the corrupt mayor the entire time. The supporting cast in general wasn't spectacular, although Kyle Chandler plays his part well. The film was written averagely, the story wasn't that great, and the direction was simple, yet as I stated earlier, I had a good time.
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Broken movie
tictack18 January 2013
First of all whats with the title of the movie? its catchy but hardly bears any relevance to the story. The plot and the screenplay are just good for a detective show on the television. Even when it tries to pack some thrill, the plot is so obvious that you can almost make out what has really happened. performances from Wahlberg and Crowe are decent although we have seen better from them. Catherine zeta Jones is absolutely wasted. when you watch the movie, you get a feel that you have seen this before as there's hardly anything new to offer. overall watchable once you start watching it but why should you in the first place? give it a miss. you wont miss nothing.
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One Convoluted Mess
sueg-120 January 2013
This is a movie that is much less than the sum of its parts. Good cast, good director, both completely undermined by a Godawful script. I sat through the whole thing hoping it would get better, even though it revealed its awfulness within the first ten or fifteen minutes, but no such luck ... it just descended into further levels of horrible until it finally fizzled out with a whimper.

The plot is a mishmash of elements from other, superior movies -- cop with a vigilante bent, corrupt mayor, blackmail, plucky Girl Friday, double-crosses, incriminating documents being shredded, blah blah blah - - with extra subplots (girlfriend seduced by showbiz, father-son conflict, gay marriage) thrown in for good measure, except they don't advance the story or humanize the characters one bit. The script is full of expository dialog (most irritating rookie-screenwriter habit ever), improbable twists, clunky edits and plot holes you could park a semi truck in.

This one might be worth seeing on DVD, especially if you can make up a good drinking game to go along with it -- take a shot for every plot hole, perhaps? Or every slip of Russell Crowe's questionably-Queensy accent?
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allieferraro25 January 2013
This movie is a ridiculous mess . The script was awful , made no sense , left plot lines hanging. Horrible waste of actors I like. That being said, only Crowe made an effort in this stupid movie and it wasn't very much of an effort . Walhberg is an alcoholic who stopped drinking 7 years ago , he breaks with his wife--with absolutely no groundwork laid for this breakup , they seemed very much in love until the breakup, and he just starts drinking. No one says anything about it , he handles the alcohol fine , and we never see the wife again and she doesn't seem to entire Walhberg's mind. It's so stupid that I can't even go into all the things that don't make any sense. Just save your money and see something else , this will just make you mad.
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A Badly Written Mess
DUKEJBM18 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is a mess. It's an entertaining mess but a mess nonetheless. Besides taking no time to introduce or make us care about any of the characters, the overall plot and concept are simply ludicrous and that's putting it mildly. What transpires a week leading to the election for mayor of New York is so outrageous and nonsensical that it deflates this movie right to its core. Character actions make no sense at all and the movie tries to turn on a dime in a few places to seem clever or deliver some sort of arc but it all plays out as lazy writing and development.

SPOILER: The mayor's wife Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is written the worst of all and when you think about it, her involvement and the motivation of others to include her makes no sense at all. It's not a plot hole, it's just too silly for reality or for entertainment in this case. You have to have a plot that makes sense in the first place for there to have plot holes or flaws. Crowe phoned in the bad guy mayor role because I believe that he had to. There's nothing there to work with as an actor, even one as good as Russell.

Overall, the writing and character beats are atrocious just like Wahlberg's last early year release Contraband.
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Entertaining thriller
DarkVulcan2925 January 2013
The Mayor(Russell Crowe) of New York, who pretty much has everything in his back pocket, hires a private detective(Mark Wahlberg) who was once a cop, but was fired because of a scandalous shooting incident. He hires him to follow his wife(Catherine Zeta Jones) in suspecting that she is cheating on him, but what is gonna be discovered, is more than meets the eye.

This movie kind of drags in the first part, but surprisingly picks up in the second part. Crowe and Wahlberg do give descent performances, so does Catherine Zeta Jones and Barry Pepper. It an alright thriller, nothing beyond greatness, but still entertaining, although in spots it could have better, but still deserves an 8/10.
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Broken City - Unexpectedly Enjoyable, Suspenseful and Intriguing!
ArthurVanDam127 January 2013
Detective Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is booted out of the NYC Police Force under mysterious circumstances relating to a shooting in a low-income housing project, which occurred before the movie begins. New York City Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) hires Taggart to tail his wife, Cathleen Hostetler (the Beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones. Needless to say, the Mayor believes his wife is bedding another man - aka cheating. Or is there a bit more to the quest? Along the way, Taggart uncovers a big-money, web of conspiracy involving corruption.

I liked Broken City movie because we don't know who did what and how many people did what to whom. In other words, while we're on edge waiting for the resolution, more perpetrators enter the game and as they say, "the plot thickens." An excellent performance by Russell Crowe; and a good showing from Wahlberg too. Zeta-Jones always shines through. I'm a fan of Alona Tal.

The unanswered questions expanded until the very end when resolution arrived. All in, Much More Suspenseful than I expected.

I did Not like the several times Carl Fairbanks, Police Commissioner (Jeffrey Wright) said "It's complicated" when asked who's involved by Taggert. Aren't most things complicated? Surely the writers could do better than that. A few times, the dialog was muffled, but then maybe it was the theater's sound system or my hearing.

I also liked Katy Bradshaw (Alona Tal) who plays Taggert's officemate and close friend and confidante. It wasn't clear to me the nature of their relationship - lovers, family members, friends or merely coworkers. Maybe I missed the connection. I wish the writers would have developed her character more. I first met Tal in the hit TV series "Leverage" (Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman) where she played Kaye Lynn Gold, country music singer, in The Studio Job (2010). I hope we see more of Tal. Wish Leverage didn't end at the end of Season 5.

See Broken City; You'll enjoy it! Arthur VanDam, film critic and author
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The kick is up and it's wide left! No points!
ArthurMausser17 January 2013
Every character in this Ho Hummer is evil, a liar, or full of important information. I never get the vibe of believing any of these characters are real like I did in the movie The Departed.

I can tell you the storyline but then again, do I really want to waste my time? Watch one of the hundreds of cop/detective shows on TV and you've seen this one before.

The script is simultaneously too complicated and clearly defined, and none of it is really that interesting or unique.

Wahlberg always seems sort of startled and one step behind and his acting seems like acting. Crowe is crude behind his lame attempt at a NY accent (Casting Directors can't find acting talent in New York City for these roles? Aussie go home!)Zeta-Jones, although being married to Michael Douglas, is again underused as a supporting actress.

Every actor/actress in this movie has made and will make better movies.

I give 5 stars for the money and effort to make this a good one. Sorry, just can't give 5 stars out for free! Again I say, Put your money in purchasing script, producer, director and casting director and as little as possible on overpaid and overrated actors!
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Surprisingly Bad considering the talent involved.
giantpanther7 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Before I even get into a review I just have to mention something thats rather annoying, I am not a conservative but I am certainly not a liberal. But when forced to pick sides I go with conservatives, anyways this stupid film had the audacity of making the Crowe character into a total republican thus heres the subliminal message for you moron movie goers, republicans are greedy and liberals are always pure and noble socialists who just want to abuse those very rich snobs. Of course we all know how that really goes, they say they'll tax just the super rich and me a guy who makes 1600 a month working at a grocery store gets hammered with that 2 percent payroll tax, thanks liberals, jerks.

So anyways I went to see this at my discount theater today, and it was discount day at the discount theater which means I paid $1.50 to see this turd of a movie. I thought hey even if its bad its got Russell Crowe and he usually doesn't star in garbage, well so much for that. This was just bad all around.

It was a plot you could see coming a mile away, Wahlberg at the start of the movie guns down a black kid for raping his girlfriends sister. It was murder but he got off because he's a cop. Anyways so later Crowe the corrupt and of course very republican Mayor needs a favor and calls in the dependable Wahlberg to use his super rare skills of taking pictures of people having affairs.

Heres where it gets stupid, Crowe with all his mayor connections has to call in two bit hood Wahlberg to track his wife. Sure makes sense.

So Wahlberg does his job but then the guy he was spying on ends up dead, turns out it wasn't an affair but Crowe's wife leaking information to an aide to the opponent.

Wahlberg feels bad, and yea you can figure out how the rest of this movie goes. I mean its bad enough the plot sucked but they gotta throw in their little high and mighty we are Hollywood and thus we understand politics better than you so be sure to notice how Crowe is a republican and his adversary is a liberal.

From a purely cinematic view point, all political frustrations aside this film fails because you never for a minute care for any of the characters. Whats so great or interesting about Wahlberg's guy, seems to be an emotionless jerk. As for Crowe he's not a good enough villain because you never think for a moment he could outsmart anyone so you know how the film will conclude. And Catherine Zeta Jones, why was she even in this movie? Can she just not get good parts now, it was a nothing role and she did nothing with it. I might have to remember to miss the next couple of generic Wahlberg films that come out. They are usually bad but you can still watch em, this one was a new low of dullness.
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a liberal bedtime story
rupie16 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is nothing more than a scaffolding on which to hand a tiresome collection of clichéd liberal nostrums. The characters, as well, are cardboard stereotypes. We know right from the first scene in the office of the mayor that he's going to be the bad guy. Why? Look how much he drinks, and see how tough-on-crime he is. We have the standard liberal line of "developer as villain." And then when the gay issue is injected it's clear the "good guys" will be gay. And how stunningly obvious, to the point of silliness, that the "good" mayoral candidate's name is "Jack Valliant." Puh-leeeez. The clincher to this view of the movie is the extended excerpt from the mayoral debate, which does absolutely zero to advance the plot. The whole point is to show us how the bad guy wants lower taxes, and the good guy wants to - wait for it - "tax the rich." I guess the viewer is not supposed to be paying attention because Valliant claims to want do this to close the budget deficit, when 30 seconds earlier it's been made clear the budget is in surplus. Details, details. Wahlberg and Crowe do their usual good jobs, and the suspense is fairly well maintained, but it's not enough to counter the liberal sermonizing and some pretty clumsy plot devices. I'm waiting for Hollywood to be really radical, and come up with a movie where the villain is gay, or a prochoice activist, or an environmentalist, and the hero is a Republican or a developer. But I'm not holding my breath.
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A Generic Political Thriller
griffolyon1220 June 2013
Broken City is not an unwatchable movie, but it's not a great movie either. A standard, run-of- the-mill political thriller about corrupt politicians and the private eye caught in the middle of it all, is elevated by the turns of Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, but the script itself is bland and a little too on the nose for it to ever be believable or emotionally involving. When a character is flat-out telling you everything about their backstory, rather than letting you piece it together through visuals and subtext, that's when you know the script doesn't always work. Even still, there are good moments to be found here and there, but there's nothing about this movie that's any different than any similar movie ever released, and most of those do everything a lot better. Want my advice, watch Serpico or All the President's Men instead.

I give Broken City a 6 out of 10!
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Big big deal
Quietb-127 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Start by lowering your expectations. A big cast does little with what they were given to work with.

Not much is new with a crooked mayor, fired cop, and a vamp wife. Add to it a forced in car chase and you get a fair movie.

The big question is why would Billy trust the mayor after the way he was fired earlier. It was implied he needed the money but he had just spent quality screen time on collections. There are unsubtle gay issues which the writer needed to make the story work.

"Broken City" is one of those movies that when it comes on cable you don't remember if you saw it.
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The cast deserved better.
Troy_Campbell15 March 2013
Three things become quickly apparent whilst viewing this run of the mill thriller: Mark Whalberg is in his comfort zone playing the reluctant and damaged hero, Russell Crowe obviously had a blast taking time off from 'serious' acting to play the Machiavellian politician here, and Barry Pepper unfortunately remains one of our generation's most underrated and underused actors. With a predictable and clichéd plot - Whalberg's emotionally wounded ex-cop is hired, then framed for murder, by Crowe's scheming New York Mayor - and Allen Hughes' uninspired direction from behind the camera, Broken City never reaches the heights it could, or should, have. In his first solo directorial effort (he's made 4 feature films with brother Albert), Hughes musters neither the style (From Hell, Book of Eli) or the grit (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents) of his previous work, instead his camera feels flat and his tone plodding. There are sporadic moments of excitement, but these are owed to the top notch cast doing their best despite the one-dimensionality of their characters. Crowe is a pure joy to watch as the gleefully despicable villain and Pepper imbues his opposition leader with intrigue, whilst in other roles there's Jeffrey Wright who keeps his police commissioner morally ambiguous to the very end and Catherine Zeta-Jones who plays the Mayor's seductive wife with aplomb. Alas, throw in the terminally dull climax and this is ultimately a disappointing movie with unfulfilled potential and broken promises, of which the cast deserved better.
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Broken City; Irreparable film. Dull, contrived & 40 years late to the party.
TheSquiss14 March 2013
To paraphrase Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe), there are some films you watch and some films you walk away from. This ain't the watching kind.

Broken City is a forgettable film worth celebrating only because Russell Crowe, 'fresh' from Les Miserables, doesn't sing in it. It's not dreadful in a Movie 43 kind of way but don't confuse it with Broken, a vastly different and infinitely superior film.

What's wrong with Broken City? It's dull. It plods along, reluctant to arrive and, when it does it, it looks and feels as though it should have done so thirty-odd years ago. Everything feels second hand and outdated. Russell Crowe sports a mullet only the cruelest of mothers would have inflicted on their child in the 70s, much of the incidental music could have been lifted and diluted from Stewart Copeland's score for The Equalizer and Catherine Zeta-Jones rehashes the same character she's played throughout her career.

Unfortunately, we've come to expect ham from Crowe in recent years, but we expect more from Mark Wahlberg, the star power here. But he, too, has pulled an old character out of the wardrobe to dress himself in and it looks distinctly worn out since we saw it in Contraband.

The dialogue is predictable, the plot even more so. Cop-turned private eye, Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) variously works for and crosses swords with the mayor, who just happens to be in an election campaign against Jack Valliant (Billy Pepper playing the supporting man with pained expression again) and is up to his neck in a dodgy deal worth millions to sell half the city. Taggart may not be whiter than snow (what cop is?), Mrs. Hosteleter (Zeta-Jones) is the bitch-vamp with attitude who despises her husband and Taggart's old boss, Fairbanks (Jeffery Wright), is probably up to at least his waist in something unpleasant.

It started poorly but I hoped it might pick up. Unfortunately, screenwriter Brian Tucker (who, incidentally, has absolutely nothing else to his credit on IMDb! What does that say?) is unable to save it from drowning in its own juices. He shovels on information to helps us understand as though educating monkeys, but appears to have forgotten what he wrote on the previous pages. In one scene we watch an aide dump a rubbish bag filled with hush-hush city plans only for Taggart to find them; in the next we watch the same team hastily shredding evidence.

There's probably some action and the odd smart quip, but to be honest I had more fun trying to plait my arm hair.

I'd like to say my evening improved but I attempted to wash my brain out with a screening of Fire With Fire.

Oh dear…

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Film Bore
cultfilmfreaksdotcom28 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
New York is a broken city… Not only is this the film's title but the opinion (during an anticipated debate) of incumbent Mayor Hostetler, who, played by Russell Crowe, is about as crooked as any cinema-based politician who hides behind the promise of lower taxes, and more importantly, strives to win a fleeting election by use of shortcuts and manipulation.

We begin Mark Wahlberg's tough cop Billy Taggart at a crime scene with a dead body on the street – he winds up breezing through a murder trial and six years later the Mayor, a few days shy of the debate and election, needs Taggart – now a detective with his own dwindling agency – for some snooping around: the Mayor's wife could be having an affair with someone from the other team.

These are the most intriguing moments as the street savvy Taggart adheres to the basic yet involving task he's given: Walhberg plays the gumshoe in a slow-burn Neo Noir fashion. It's when a pivotal murder occurs that the film goes downhill, catapulting so many dull political maneuvers you'll forget why Taggart's there at all.

Russell Crowe's crooked politician isn't seedy enough to despise, nor is he the type of louse you love to hate. Bridled by shallow, talky scenes within his office, and eventually cornering Taggart with a anticlimactic blackmail scheme, by the end you'll be hard-pressed on which character to root (or vote) for.
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Dull and lifeless!
JockStein28 June 2013
The idiom, "All Dressed Up With No Place To Go" seems apropos for this disappointing drama. All the ingredients were there, two of my favorite actors, Russel Crowe and Mark Wahlberg, great supporting cast in Katherine Zeta Jones, Barry Pepper and Kyle Chandler and with New York City as the backdrop, how could it fail? It did though! The script was dreadful, the storyline was completely confusing and the audience was left wondering what was really going on. You cannot fault Crowe and Wahlberg as they did the best with what they were given, but with weak direction, little character development and a total lack of clarity this train never left the station.If you skip this motion picture, you are not missing much.
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throwaway tale of political corruption
Buddy-5120 June 2013
Even a solid cast - including the likes of Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and "Friday Night Light's" Kyle Chandler - can't rescue Allen Hughes' "Broken City," a muddled mix of P.I. fiction, civic corruption and political skulduggery.

Wahlberg plays an ex-NYPD cop turned private investigator who's hired by the mayor (Crowe) to find out if his wife (Zeta-Jones) is fooling around on him. But is there more to the case than meets the untrained eye?

You know right off the bat that your script (in this case, by Brian Tucker) is in trouble when the key point hinges on a real estate deal so arcane and esoteric in its details that you would need to be a city planner yourself to fully comprehend it.

Filled with characters, conflicts and conundrums we couldn't care less about, "Broken City" fades to insignificance even as we're watching it. The city ain't the only thing that's broken here.
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A mess
johan-3646 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Somebody call the AAA because you got a wreck on your hands.

This movie is one of the worst examples of poor screen writing and confusing Hollywood filmmaking.

How these talented actors (most of them at least) decided to sign on to this poor material is a mystery. Perhaps the original screenplay had more promise. Perhaps they had a intriguing mood board. Perhaps they never showed the script.

Either way, this movie is a complete mess. It lacks a plot. A sense of direction. Like a rowboat without oars, it drifts without any sense of course or plan. The scenes shift from one character to another while the premise or goal remains unclear.

I had to watch an episode of BREAKING BAD to clear my mind and remind me that there is intelligent work out there.
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