Movie review – Crime and corruption by the numbers

2013-01-27 10:00

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Film: Broken City (Nu Metro)

Director: Allen Hughes

Featuring: Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jeffrey Wright

Rating: 6/10

This is a debut film for both the writer and director. But Allen Hughes has directed with his brother before.

He was behind the lens of The Book of Eli and From Hell. This time he’s alone. This cop-versus-the-system thriller is competent, but it doesn’t break any new ground.

The tell comes too early and even someone who’s never played poker will be able to read the film maker’s intentions from the get-go.

Mark Wahlberg is Billy Taggart, a good cop responsible for a bad shooting. Instead of throwing him to the media wolves, the mayor (Russell Crowe) and his boss (Jeffrey Wright) retire him and force him to find work as an adultery-chasing private eye.

Taggart accepts his lot and gets on with his life, but around the time his personal life starts to implode, he’s called in by the mayor to do him a favour.

It’s election time again in the city and the mayor is convinced his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is having an affair. He wants to know with whom because no one wants to re-elect a cuckold.

For Billy it’s easy money, but like the famous “they” say – there’s no such thing as a free lunch or an easy fifty thousand bucks.

Crowe is suitably odious as the smooth-operating politician with crooked friends and bendy morals. He should be easy to identify for all of us who know quite a few of these guys in our own government.

After his extraordinarily fine performance as Javert in Les Misérables, this rather so-so role seems below the large talents of Crowe and I wonder why he bothered, unless it was as a favour to a mate.

While Broken City isn’t a dud, it lacks lustre and fails to do that which a movie should – to delight and surprise. Rather, it plods on and when the reveal comes, well, we’ve seen it coming like a chugging freight train from pretty much the first frame.

Wahlberg doesn’t have to dig too deep to be a good Catholic cop. It’s a role he’s dabbled in plenty and Zeta-Jones has little to do but be the catalyst for chaos.

With Argo also opening this weekend and so many fine films on circuit, this one really will be a mediocre consolation prize for those who didn’t book their tickets ahead of time.

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