Now, if you were to ask me if I wanted to see the latest political thriller starring the likes of Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Mark Wahlberg I would’ve probably baulked at the idea.

Having now seen it I can confirm that it is a predictably cliched affair, yet an oddly enjoyable one. And not in a “oh my god it’s so bad” enjoyable, nor in a “oh my god, this is a remarkable piece of cinema” enjoyable.

Mark Wahlberg takes the centre stage as the shamed cop turned private investigator, Billy Taggart – a typical role for Mr Wahlberg, likeable, witty and friend of New York’s Mayor, Hostetler, played impeccably by Russell Crowe, who is clearly relishing the opportunity to chew up the scenery.

Hired by the Mayor, Taggart has to investigate Hostetler’s ice cool wife, Cathleen who is suspected of having an affair.

As the proceedings trot along and the plot unfolds, Taggart begins to suspect all is not what it seems and finds himself engulfed in all sorts of political shenanigans, scams and the usual predictable fisticuffs.

Directed by Allen Hughes, Brian Tucker’s script is deftly handled and Hughes does a great job in balancing the action and humour, meaning that when things begin to go bit ho-hum, they swiftly pick up again. In fact, Broken City was so well paced I was rarely bored during the whole film.

Every character has a memorable moment and while it may be billed as a Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe film, it is arguably more of an ensemble piece.

With some solid support from the likes of Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler and Alona Tal, Taggart is surrounded by a diverse bunch, all of which have an agenda and secrets of their own.

Particularly impressive is newcomer Alona Tal and if there is any justice in the world, she has a bright career ahead of her.


Of the main characters, Mark Wahlberg is playing the same character he usually plays (with the exception to Sgt Dignam in The Departed), Russell Crowe shines as the sleazy, clearly corrupt and borderline-pantomime Mayor Hostetler and while Catherine Zeta-Jones pivotal role as Cathleen is shockingly underused.

As I mentioned earlier, the proceedings can often get a bit cliched.

Alcohol is clearly represented as a bad thing and will often lead the characters down dark paths, only for them to redeem themselves when they finally sober up. There’s also a few moments when the script just falls dead on it’s feet with the odd clanger, but soon picks itself up – in fact, this is usually where the odd witty line rescues Broken City, as you almost forget what was said that made you roll your eyes in the first place.

Visually, the film is pretty strong and Ben Seresin’s cinematography does a great job in distracting from the absurdity of the plot and presenting New York City as a shadowy, gritty place where every street corner hides a secret and every character is not to be trusted.

The action sequences are well balanced and focused, while the more intimate moments are handled in a considered manner and are complimented well by its synthesised score, courtesy of Atticus Ross (of Social Network fame), Claudia Sarne and Leo Ross.

So like I said, it’s a mildly enjoyable political thriller, with a good balance of action, humour and political intrigue mixed together with some solid performances from, lets face it, a fine collection of typecast actors.

Despite it’s faults, it’s predictability and shameful cliches, I enjoyed it and I’m not entirely sure why.

EXTRAS: Featurette, interviews, deleted scenes

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.