Broken City Review: Completely Beyond Repair

MV5BMTY4OTIwODg4Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjg0MDY1OA@@._V1._SY317_When I went to the theater this Martin Luther King Day, I knew I wasn’t in for anything special.  What I didn’t know is that I would end up enjoying the pile of shit that is Haunted House more than this Wahlberg/Crowe starring political thriller.  To be fair, the only reason I hated Haunted House less was that it obviously didn’t even try, whereas Broken City tries really hard and fails even harder.  Also, Haunted House at least had the decency to be about 18 minutes shorter.  Horribly written, clumsily directed, appallingly acted and woefully miscast, Broken City represents the closest I’ve come to walking out of a movie theater in years.

Check Please

Check Please

The Plot:

In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler.

The Players:

The truly mind-boggling thing about Broken City is how many truly talented actors it features.  You wouldn’t know it by their performances here that each of the three leads have either been nominated for or have won an Oscar in the past decade.

He looks about as bored as I was

He looks about as bored as I was

Wahlberg plays New York City cop Billy Taggert, who is forced into the private sector after killing an alleged murderer and rapist in the line of duty.  Wahlberg is in absolute autopilot here, and while a lot of the blame for his character’s shortcomings come from the dialogue he’s given, he still feels like he’s just cashing in a paycheck.  The one small consolation is that the circumstances surrounding his dismissal from the NYPD have some amount of light shed on it, but the movie fails to make those revelations fit into the plot in any meaningful way.

Wanna know why they call me Maximus?

Wanna know why they call me Maximus?

Crowe isn’t having a great few months on the acting front either.  While I didn’t hate him in Les Miserables as much as some have, he is truly awful here.  Between his distractingly bad New York accent and his distinct lack of the sort of menace that tends to help in a chief antagonist, it feels like the producers were desperate to cram Crowe into a part to which he distinctly didn’t belong.

Catherine Zeta Jones is also here, but that’s about all I can say about her.  Her performance is as wooden as the coffee table below

They told me "just stand there and be handsome"

They told me “just stand there and be handsome”

me right now, and the fact that she’s proven herself to be a fully capable actress in the past suggests that the fault lies in the directing rather than in Jones’ ability to act.  I also couldn’t help but feel like Barry Pepper didn’t fit into his role as the John Kerry-esque opponent to Hofstetler in the election, even though it’s obvious he gives more of an effort than any of his starring counterparts.  He’s also revealed to be in a homosexual relationship with his campaign manager; a twist that comes out of the blue and only adds to the movie’s confusing political tones

"By the way honey, hope you don't mind but I'll be having sex with another man on screen tonight"

“By the way honey, hope you don’t mind but I’ll be having sex with another man on screen tonight”

My personal favorite was Billy’s girlfriend Natalie, who has no chemistry whatsoever with Billy and ends up just sort of fading off screen with no resolution at all.  What was truly terrible about her character though is the arc that involves Billy finding out that the indie film she just starred in features a graphic, fully nude sex scene with her attractive male co-star.  Not only does she not tell Billy about this, but she waits until the public premiere of the film for him to find out and then acts like he’s being the unreasonable one.

The Writing:

*Queue crickets chirping"

*Queue crickets chirping”

This is where the movie goes from mediocre to incomprehensible mess.  The plot is confusing as hell, not because of complexity but because of poor explanation of what’s actually going on.  Various political (class warfare, corruption) and social (gay rights, vigilante justice) messages are tossed about without any sort of real impact at all.  Worst of all though is the dialogue.  The writers tried so very hard to give the characters funny lines, quirky personalities and witty banter, but there is absolutely nothing funny or witty about any of it.  It’s sort of like when you have a friend that keeps making bad jokes, but won’t stop because he doesn’t get the fact that he simply isn’t funny.  I imagine a lot of the lines might have sounded good at a table read, but the director should have intervened when shooting the actual scenes and realizing how they sounded coming out of the actors’ mouths.

The Verdict:  3.0/10  Just Plain Bad

- Horrible dialogue that tries and fails to be funny

- Horribly confusing and scattered plot

- Acting that feels like everyone involved just gave up halfway through the production

- Hardly any action to distract from the issues listed above

Critical Consensus:

Rotten Tomatoes: 30%

IMDb: 6.1/10

Metacritic: 49/100

Other Reviews:

Fogs’ Movie Reviews: C

Dan the Man Movie Reviews:  5.5/10

The Code is Zeek: 2.5/5

Filmhipster: 40%

Average: 4.5/10 – Sub-Par

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About r361n4

I'm a student at the University of Washington Majoring Business. I've always loved movies and my goal is to work on the financial side of the film industry. Until then though, I figure I'll spare my friends from my opinions and shout them from a digital mountaintop for anyone who's interested. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody blogs about it, does it really happen?
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8 Responses to Broken City Review: Completely Beyond Repair

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Just a lame movie that’s only heightened by a great cast. However, for peeps like Crowe, Wahlberg, and hell, even Pepper, there has been and will be better material for them. Good review Andy.

  2. Heh. LOL. I was right, you were saying Haunted House was better. Cmon man. Come onnnnn… :D

    Outside of that, I wont defend the film at all, I just didnt hate it as bad as you did.

    But cmon… Haunted House is a STRONG “worst film of the year” candidate. This wasnt THAT bad buddy!

    • r361n4 says:

      Lol, my review of haunted house is coming out tonight but id like to point out that ill be giving it a lower score. I just sort of knew what I was getting into for that one so it wasn’t quite as high on the painful scale in terms of shattered expectations

    • r361n4 says:

      But anyways, haunted house aside I still hated this movie… I’m not saying that its the worst movie of the year but from a personal level I just did not enjoy it whatsoever

  3. wordschat says:

    Yep it is a lame disaster for sure. Time that Walhberg stops playing cookie cutter cop roles.

  4. Pingback: Bullet to the Head Review: You Had Me at F*ck You | Rorschach Reviews

  5. Pingback: January Wrap-Up: 1 Down, 11 To Go | Rorschach Reviews

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