“Broken City” – Early Review by Jake Peffer

It seems every other year or so we tend to get another crime thriller starring Mark Walhberg. This year Walhberg stars in Broken City alongside Russell Crowe. Walhberg stars as Billy Taggert, a former police officer turned private investigator. He gets hired by the mayor of New York City, Hostetler (Russell Crowe), to follow his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and find out who she’s having an affair with. Once Billy starts to follow the mayor’s wife around he soon finds himself in a bigger scandal than he originally thought.

There is plenty to like about Broken City but there is also just as much that makes it somewhat forgettable. Director Allen Hughes (Dead Presidents) brings a stylistic approach to the movie and makes it a gritty thriller. As far as gritty crime thrillers go, this one is pretty routine and brings nothing new to the table. That’s not always a bad thing but it would have been nice if they tried something we haven’t really seen before. With that being said, there isn’t a dull moment and it’s always interesting.

One problem I had was the way they handle the relationship between Billy and his girlfriend played by Natalie Martinez (End of Watch). The movie spends at least twenty to twenty-five minutes showing their relationship and there’s a point where she leaves and they never bring her back or resolve their relationship. At one point Billy goes to visit her parents but that scene serves no value to the story or their relationship and is not needed at all. This sub-plot could have easily been taken out because it feels like they added it but didn’t know how to resolve it so they just never went back to it for the rest of the movie.

The strongest part of the movie is the cast. Mark Walhberg gives another good performance here as the lead. Really it’s not often he gives a bad performance so this is nothing new. His scenes with Russell Crowe are great, its fun seeing them interact and they both play off each other very well. Catherine Zeta-Jones is underused here, as she has been in her last few movies. She’s just a plot device that could have been played by any other actress. Kyle Chandler, Barry Pepper and Jeffrey Wright all round out the main cast here and each of them don’t have a lot of screen time but they do well with what they have, especially Jeffrey Wright.

Broken City has nothing new or original to offer but for a movie released in January it’s rather good and the performances from Mark Walhberg and Russell Crowe lift this to being above average.

Grade:
B-

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