Just when Mark Wahlberg was starting to redeem himself with a string of good movies like Ted, The Fighter and The Other Guys (after patronizing us with bombs like Four Brothers, The Happening and Max Payne), he reverts back into mediocrity with Allen Hughes’, Broken City. And from the looks of his upcoming Pain and Gain, that regression is going to hit Mark Sanchez depths.
Broken City is a political “thriller” whose best moments can be seen in the various trailers already released, and its weakest moments coming about with every passing moment. Though well paced, the story of an ex-police officer turned private investigator, has been recycled a hundred times. Even with a determined-to-make-it-as-enjoyable-as-possible Wahlberg at the helm of most of the film, halfway through it becomes evident that you’ve just wasted precious money and time from your life that you’re not going to get back.
In this film the ex-cop is Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg). A few years after being ousted from the NYPD for shooting a murderer/rapist who was freed on a technicality, Taggart is hired by much-loved New York City Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) to keep tabs on his momshell of a wife, Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and find out whom she’s bumping uglies with. What Taggart actually ends up uncovering is a plot so devious, so sinister and so ridiculously lame that it would’ve been better served as a case for that team of teens that pushes the Mystery Machine.
I have to be real and say that any scene that didn’t have CJ-Z, wasn’t worth watching. Scenes shared by Crowe and Zeta-Jones were a little engaging, thanks to the disdain and aversion their characters displayed towards one another. But that was as good as it got. Wahlberg was only as good as the story could make him, and that meant a mediocre performance from the man. It was a tired story with a tired plot that was moved along with tired dialogue. In one particularly generic exchange, Walberg asks why he was chosen for the job to which Russell Crowe boldly replies, “Because I own you.” The only thing that made that worse was Crowe’s horrible "New Yawk" accent.
Anyone who’s seen this movie will agree that Broken City needs more than it’s share of fixing, which is disheartening for heads like myself who grew up a Allen Hughes fan (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, Book of Eli were all bangers). It felt like that age old story about a man who’s setup and double-crossed, and is now on a mission of revenge and redemption. Whether it was the ridiculous element that has recovering alcoholic Taggart in a relationship with the sister of the very killer/rapist he lit up (really?) or how Mayor Hostetler was apparently able to wipe a multi-billion dollar debt by selling a whole hood (seriously?), the picture just wasn’t able to find its footing.
To say that Broken City is as mediocre a political thriller as they come would be an overstatement. Yes, we know that politicians are corrupt, egoists and two-faced, but did we really need a nonsensical movie to remind us of that fact? And did y’all really have to waste a Catherine Zeta-Jones appearance for that? The woman only makes one movie every three years and it was wasted on a film that by all means should’ve gone straight to DVD. We, her fans, deserve better.