Mark Wahlberg plays the perfect ex.
Whether it’s an ex-military man trying to enjoy retirement, ex-heist man looking to get his revenge, or, as is the case in Broken City, ex-cop thrust out of his job, Wahlberg nails the role. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s an ex-rapper and now is only acting, or maybe he’s just broken up with a lot of girls. But really the reason is irrelevant, just know he is spot on in playing the ex again this time around.
Allen Hughes’ political thriller revolves around Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) a former cop who lost his job due to a highly controversial shooting of an accused rapist. He then takes on a new job as a private detective, but his fairly simple operation becomes more complicated when he gets hired by the mayor (Russell Crowe), who remembers the quality work he did as a cop. He’s then pulled into a series of complex layers of corruption involving the mayor’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the police commissioner (Jeffery Wright), and a new mayoral candidate (Barry Pepper).
The obstacles and twists thrown in Taggart’s way are nothing mind-blowing, especially for those familiar with the cop/political-thriller genre, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still entertaining. In fact, many times with this sort of movie the writers try to make the film too complex, too unpredictable, and the result is it become too complicated. Broken City is simple enough that it’s understandable, but not so simple that it feels dumbed down and boring. It does keep you guessing, which is the recipe to a successful thriller, but with that being said, none of the things it keeps you guessing on feel as significant as you may want from a thriller this heavily set in the politics of a major city. Many times the twists still seem far from satisfying once revealed, and because of that the thrills are dulled down from the level they might’ve otherwise hit.
But where the story has its highs and lows, the performances from the leads are all highs. As I noted earlier, Wahlberg nails his role. He pulls off a the right mix of funny, vulnerable, and intense, and portrays a really likable character. Crowe is no less enjoyable to watch with rage boiling just below the surface at every turn while he attempts to retain his cool public composure. The highlights of his performance are in his sinister, sullen scenes with his cheating wife. The politician’s cheating wife is a trope seen far too often in film, but Crowe uses what actors have done before him and melts down those performances into one very memorable performance of his own.
While Broken City isn’t without its flaws, it still is a very entertaining film to watch. With some better payoffs and more exciting twists, it certaintly would be better, but some solid performances keep this film one worth watching.
Tags: Broken City