Broken City - Cinema Review

'you're left with a telegraphed film in which Crowe arrives swilling spirits and spouting coarse language about 'bitches on heat'. Might the Mayor not be quite as clean as his public image suggests? It's a distinct possibility.'

As cookie-cutter cop Thrillers go, Broken City is not up there with the rare efforts that manage to innovate and excite enough to consider them 'quite good'. In fact, director Allen Hughes appears to be on a mission to ignore everything remotely interesting about Brian Tucker's script, most notably when considering the key central relationship between Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper and Kyle Chandler. The interactions between this triplicate of supporting turns don't exactly play out as you would expect but does fizzle out regardless when Hughes decides he doesn't care about the intriguing implications of some developments for Jack Valliant (Pepper), who is running for mayor.

Much more interesting to Hughes instead is Billy Taggart's (Mark Wahlberg) quest to be a good ex-cop, Mayor Hostetler's (Russell Crowe) bid to hold on to his office and Taggart's relationship with his girlfriend (Natalie Martinez). The former obviously has much to do with the core plot and seeing two A-listers spar has its moments but the latter is particularly perplexing. A great deal of time is given over by Hughes to looking at Taggart and Natalie's (Martinez) love and how it's effected by her impending 'stardom' in an independent film. It seems like this might be going somewhere, possibly weaving into the plot somehow. And then it doesn't. In fact, every single scene between the two of them has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the film and Taggart's investigation and you end up wondering quite how these segments weren't at least cut down at the first draft. The much funnier relationship between Wahlberg and Alona Tal - who has at least some impact on the core mystery - provides more than enough human interest to the story. Twenty-minutes plus of Martinez should have been cut entirely, if not the character as a whole.

That out of the way, you're left with a telegraphed film in which Crowe arrives swilling spirits and spouting coarse language about 'bitches on heat'. Might the Mayor not be quite as clean as his public image suggests? It's a distinct possibility. Jeffrey Wright adds some further intrigue as a police chief whose allegiances are never solidified and, therefore, largely don't matter. Chandler gets the best of the script as an erudite campaign manager, whilst Wahlberg gets the worst, least confident parts of it. Trying to take a picture of a man who's face we never see he is forced to declare the blitheringly obvious 'come on man, show me your face', in case we had missed the fact that, well... you don't need the further extrapolation, despite what the script may think.

Broken City eventually gets so trapped by its meaningless plot machinations that technical and minor plotting flaws start to show through. Quite why Taggart is allowed free access to a crime scene, and then employed by Fairbanks (Wright) in some dubious water-torture-like information gathering, is anyone's guess, why Taggart partakes, likewise. The score by Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross and Claudia Sarne is typical soaring strings - at one point with low-rent doves (pigeons) in the background - and Ben Seresin's cinematography doesn't do enough to get across to us that this city is, well, broken. You will have passed worse two hours, but it is difficult to think of a more meaningless way in which to do so.



No comments:

Post a comment