You don’t know what you’re getting into when you see Broken City. What appears to be your friendly neighbourhood cop movie featuring Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe ends up being a very dark comic book-esque film. It begins with a murder and Mark at the scene of the crime holding a gun…. Guilty as charged.
I can’t even begin to describe the premise of the film because there’s so much going on. Mark Wahlberg plays Billy Taggart, an ex-detective turned over-paid investigator that takes discreet photos of the elite doing naughty things. Originally justice-fighting policeman, he’s cleaned up from his heavy drinking days and is just trying to get by.
Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) is running for his second term and is feeling a lot of pressure from his goody two-shoes rival Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper). He decides to employ Billy to get dirt on his adulterous wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones) to keep his image clean in society.
Russell Crowe easily sweeps the screen with his deviant role as the mayor. He’s completely ruthless and carefully recruits flawed members of society to do his dirty work. I’ve never seen him as a better villain than in Broken City with his fearless and confident performance. He could sell you the skin on your back with that resonant voice.
Although there are many twists and turns in the plot, I think overall there are too many loose ends to form a coherent sequence of events. You find yourself wrapped up trying to figure out who the Mayor’s wife is sleeping with, and suddenly there’s a whole whirlwind of seedy back-stabbers and you’re pretty much just as confused as Wahlberg is on screen.
As for Mark Wahlberg, we’ve seen him plenty of times playing the do-good justice fighter. But what makes Billy more realistic is that he’s got quite a bit of dirt on his hands, making this a much more interesting turn of events. How does a genuinely good man deal with himself after committing a few bad deeds?
The supporting actors are merely pawns in the big picture. Jeffrey Wright plays the Chief of Police Carl Fairbanks, a cop that always sides for the highest bidder. Natalie Martinez plays Billy’s girlfriend Natalie Barrow, an aspiring actress that keeps Billy grounded in his past. All these cookie-cutter characters might not seem very important at first, but they all contribute to good old Billy’s fight for justice.
Basically everyone in this film has their hands dirty in more than a few ways, and it’s a journey following from one person to the other as the truth slowly reveals itself. All the action comes out of the brewing lies among the characters more so than any real physical violence. Broken City is way more than just a cop movie – it’s a modern example of how twisted our society has become.
Broken City is released in UK cinemas, this Friday 1st March.]]>