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Broken City - Review

Broken City

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

A TALE of personal redemption set against the backdrop of political corruption, Broken City is something of a passion project for Mark Wahlberg.

The actor first came across the script while it was on Hollywood’s fabled Black List, and then worked tirelessly as a producer to get it financed outside of the studio system. But the effort was worth it.

For while the film itself may be flawed and not quite the heavyweight contender it thinks it is, it’s never less than engrossing thanks in no small part to the quality of the cast that Wahlberg also helped to assemble.

When disgraced former cop Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) is asked by the Mayor of New York, Hostetler (Russell Crowe), to investigate whether his wife (Catherine Zeta Jones) is having an affair, the ensuing case throws Billy into a complex political situation where nothing and no one is what they seem.

Throw in a murder and Billy suddenly finds himself having to make his own stand, which in turn raises the spectre of past demons.

Directed by Allen Hughes (in his first solo project away from brother Albert), Broken City is a tightly woven, densely plotted pot-boiler that keeps you gripped for long periods.

If the main pay-off seems a little too obvious, there are still smaller matters that carry it through to the conclusion, which doesn’t feel as pat as it could have been.

That said, Hughes still manages to lose sight of certain characters, whose presence initially seems key only for them to fall by the wayside. Zeta Jones’s wife and Barry Pepper’s rival politician being two examples.

Where the film really does entertain, however, is in the battle of wits that develops between Wahlberg and Crowe, both of whom appear to be thriving in each other’s company and then building up to the next confrontation.

And Jeffrey Wright also gives typically good value as a sly cop waiting in the wings for the objects of his pursuit to fail.

Broken City is therefore an entertaining mix of political thriller and personal redemption drama that justifies Wahlberg’s commitment to it. And if the material itself sometimes falters, it’s the calibre of the performances that keep it nicely afloat.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 107mins
UK Release Date: March 1, 2013