When a director puts Hollywood A-listers Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta Jones together in a movie, it’s easy to understand why film fans would have high hopes.
Wahlberg has been criticised in the past for his supposed inability to carry a film but there’s no doubt, the boy can act.
The Boston born actor, who will star in Michael Bay’s fourth Transformers movie next year, was utterly brilliant in Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’ and who could forget his hilariously funny performance in Seth McFarlane’s ‘Ted’ last year?
Then there’s Crowe.
Crowe has struggled to harness the same momentum that earned him a best actor Academy Award for his part as Maximus in Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’ in 2000 but the New Zealander is still a crowd puller.
Zeta Jones (‘Traffic’), who has aged tremendously well, is a draw on this side of the pond and if truth be told her performance is one of the most satisfying aspects of ‘Broken City’.
It’s sad to say but the combination of Wahlberg, Crowe and Zeta Jones just doesn’t work and reason why is complex.
Directed by Allen Hughes (‘The Book of Eli’), ‘Broken City’ is a confused muddle of a movie with more inconsistencies than a Turkish football referee.
New York Police Department detective, Billy Taggart, (Wahlberg) has forced Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Crowe) to retire from the force after he’s involved in the shooting dead of a suspected rapist.
Fast forward seven years and Billy, who has now become a private detective, is contacted by Mayor Hostetler on the eve of his re-election campaign. Billy is tasked with investigating the suspected infidelity of the mayor’s wife’s (Zeta Jones) Billy soon unearths evidence of an explosive political scandal that has the potential to bring down New York’s ruling elite but he has to decide what to do with the information.
The main story of ‘Broken City’ is sound but it’s been done a dozen times before, Roman Polanski’s ‘Chinatown’ is but one movie of similar ilk that comes to mind.
Wahlberg is fine as Billy but why is it that almost every Irish/American police officer to appear in a movie has to be depicted as an alcoholic? Lazy stereotypes are common place here.
In reference to said dependence on alcohol, there’s a scene about half way through the film when Billy has a bit of meltdown, breaks up with his long-term girlfriend and falls off the wagon. Billy proceeds to drink a mammoth amount of whiskey but during his alcohol fuelled rage against the world he learns there’s been a murder.
Despite consuming a Herculean amount of whiskey, Billy, attends the murder scene fresh faced, sober and alert. I’ll have whatever he’s drinking the next time I’m out on the town.
‘Broken City’ is disappointing and whilst Wahlberg is tolerable, Russell Crowe’s performance is so eyebrow raising that it should it should come with some sort of repetitive strain injury warning.
Crowe is an actor of immense scope and ability but the artificial hair and fake tan witnessed in ‘Broken City’ evokes bizarre images of ‘Supermarket Sweep’ host, Dale Winton.
The movie’s script leaves a lot to be desired and whilst interesting plot developments are hinted at (a possible romance between Billy and his assistant Katy - Alona Tol), they are never explored.
As Billy digs deeper and deeper into the scandal his reactions and decisions become totally implausible so much so as the film crept towards a conclusion I started cheering for Crowe’s villainous bad guy Mayor Hostetler.
‘Broken City’ is very much in the shop window as a thriller with a slight hint of film noir but there are more twists and turns in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Wahlberg will return as a leading man, Crowe and Zeta Jones live to act another day but it’ll be a while before director Allen Hughes takes charge of a big budget movie again.
‘Broken City’ is currently on show at Brunswick Moviebowl. For full listings see www.brunswickmoviebowl.com
VERDICT: 2/5 - It’s a muddle of a movie with a few decent performances. The script lets the film down and whoever was in charge of Russell Crowe’s make-up is in need of an immediate eye test. There are no major casualties along the way but despite its attempts to be a modern day political thriller ‘Broken City’ ends up feeling like a jazzed up episode of an American police television series.