brokencityHatred Is Another Actor In The Room

Broken City
Stars: Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler, Alona Tal and Jeffrey Wright
Director: Allen Hughes
Scriptwriter: Brian Tucker
20th Century Fox
Running Time: 110 minutes
Rating: R for violence
Mark Wahlberg, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Russell Crowe in a movie together. The mind boggles, but here, don't let it boggle too much. The actors are fine, but the script is a bit askew and in the end you may feel a tad let down. The story concerns a former policeman (Wahlberg) who is now a P. I.  and involves a mayoral election.
Mark was a police officer with a drinking problem and in a trial narrowly misses being indicted for murder. He’s off the force and now a P. I. with a secretary (Israeli actress Alona Tal) who runs the office and fends off creditors. Mark has not been forgotten by either the mayor (Crowe) or the chief of  police (Jeffrey Wright.) Fast forward a few years and Mark, after some narrow escapes from taking P. I. surveillance photos, is asked to come to the mayor’s office. It seems as though Crowe thinks his wife (Catherine) is having an affair and wants this squelched before election time in a week. His opponent is the upstanding Barry Pepper, who has a moral campaign manager (Kyle Chandler) to boot. Mark begins surveillance and finds out a lot of things---that don't add up. Something always comes up, too, and that is a future building project that is supposed to enhance the city, but maybe some pockets, too?  Something is definitely wrong.
The production values are fine from Zeta-Jones wardrobe to Crowe’s luxurious home and office. There is a sense of wealth and that no one really wants to leave this money nest. Mark is routinely chased and beaten, rescued by the police chief or Mark’s secretary and the middle of the film sags whenever people start talking about construction plans.
Russell Crowe is frightening as the smooth talking mayor and when he is with Catherine, your arms will get cold. Hatred is another actor in the room. Mark Wahlberg does a bit of comedy OK with his secretary (who steals her scenes) and his action scenes are fine. Barry Pepper as Crowe’s opponent has a good melt-down scene that ups the ante on acting. Jeffrey Wright, always well-placed in the scenes, has one good line that stands out. Plus, there are people lurking in the shadows and you never know if they are the good guys or the bad guys.
All in all, “Broken City” is a positive because of some well-written scenes that the actors, especially Crowe and Pepper do. Crowe’s hair style now has fashionable bangs. Back room politics just never change, from Lincoln’s time and so well shown in “Lincoln,” to “Broken City” and the meaning of poverty and wealth in a big town. Cities are like people. They can be broken down and destroyed, or broken down and re-built. It all depends on the management.
Copyright 2013 Marie Asner

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