Broken City (Movie Review)

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I went to see Broken City last night. This is what I thought of the movie.
Tag Line: In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler.
The acting was first-rate and the cast is comprised of a number of A-List actors: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones — and Alona Tal, who I felt added a great deal to the film even though she wasn’t a marquee name. If I’d been casting the film, I would not have cast Jeffrey Wright in his role, but that’s just me — unless you were going to set the film in a different period. Then maybe he would have worked. He was too wooden as he tried to play the role of a tough police chief.
The writing was not bad, but you could predict the ending five minutes into the movie. That’s not necessarily bad if the acting makes up for it — and in this case, it did. Had the movie been set in the 1950’s or 1960’s, the script might have worked better. I won’t suggest spoilers here. Most of them are subtle and are fleshed out in the last ten minutes of the movie. None of them really matter to the story telling – they are all devices the writer used to suggest why things happened. I don’t think that they worked. Brian Tucker may have gone to USC Film School because it looked like that sort of machine-writing style.
My recommendation is 6/10. The acting is engaging and I didn’t look at my watch once during the film to try and figure out how much longer it would go on. Though that may sound like a rough criteria for See/Don’t See — you’d be surprised how many films have me doing that.

Acting – Very Good

Writing – Tepid

Directing – Average

—a bit more for those who want to read on–

  • Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg did the sort of acting job that I’ve come to expect. They were very good.
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones has been less than stunning in recent roles, but she redeemed herself here. Maybe she’s gone back to acting? In any case, it was a welcome change from her recent work. 
  • Barry Pepper is a favorite of mine, but in his role as the rich boy (yet man of the people) homosexual city councilman, Jack Valliant, I found him lacking. It’s not that he can’t act. This simply wasn’t a believable role to me.
  • Kyle Chandler is a good actor, but we didn’t see that much of him in the film. What I did see, I liked.

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