© Universum/Central

Broken City
U.S.A. 2013

Opening 18 Apr 2013

Directed by: Allen Hughes
Writing credits: Brian Tucker
Principal actors: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper

Tightly scripted, tersely delivered, and compellingly acted, from the moment we first see Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) snagged in a major snafu until seven years later, we are engrossed. Harkening back to the Black Mask writers – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, etcetera from the 1930s through the 1950s – screenwriter Brian Tucker scatters significant clues throughout his story, eventually surprising us as much as the Mayor.

Charming yet treacherous, Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) contacts ex-cop now private investigator Taggart to investigate an affair he is sure his wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is having. Citing dubious reelection repercussions from opponent Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), Hostetler insists Taggart bring him proof before Election Day in two weeks. With Katy’s (Alona Tal) – secretary, office manager et al – help Taggart focuses on the assignment, as his personal relationship with Natalie (Natalie Martinez) crumbles. A wary confrontation with Police Chief Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright) at a related homicide scene introduces dangerous insights. Taggert hones in on the larger corruption scandal, culminating in one candidate’s short-lived election victory.

Oscar® recipients Zeta-Jones (Chicago) and Crowe (Gladiator), with the nominated Wahlberg (The Fighter), lead an exceptional cast under Allen Hughes’ direction. Cinematographer Ben Seresin captures New York from fresh perspectives, and the pace and tension is reinforced through Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross and Claudia Sarne’s original music. Reminiscent of the old school hard-boiled detective genre where murder outs justice, the film’s ending is apropos: sometimes people realize too late whom they should not underestimate. (Marinell Haegelin)

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