Thursday, May 23, 2013

Broken City (2013)

JohnnyTwoToes loves this multilayered crime thriller

The "love of money" is indeed the root of all evil and as they say "absolute corruption, corrupts absolutely". Never were these two correct and timely phrases more prevalent as they are in Allen Hughes first solo directorial effort Broken City (2013), a crackling good crime thriller with Mark Wahlberg donning the lead role of a battered ex-cop.

Wahlberg is Billy Taggart, a former cop who has now become a private investigator because of a shooting which we see in the movie's beginning. Whether he is right or not, I will not go into because it resurfaces later. Since Taggart is a better PI than he is at collecting money for his services, he is more than eager to jump at a job offered to him by NYC Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe). The job is to see who the mayor's wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is having an affair with. The job starts out easy enough but when things spiral out of control, loyalties are tested, friendships are strained, and the powerful are challenged.

Broken City is a busy film with a number of subplots but how they are tied together is pretty craftily constructed by Hughes and first time screenwriter Brian Tucker. The casting of Broken City is first rate and the acting is superb. Mark Wahlberg shines as Taggart, a rough around the edges soul who has battled his own demons but still knows what is right and just and will not be bought. Russell Crowe is devilishly good as the Mayor who comes across as genial but is everything but that. The supporting cast with Jeffrey Wright, Griffin Dunne, Kyle Chandler, Barry Pepper, Natalie Martinez and Michael Beach are equally excellent. I was particularly impressed with Alona Tal who plays Taggart's secretary, Katy. She is sweet, attractive and yet, still maintains a tough exterior. There is are humorous scenes where Taggart and Katy are trying to get paid from clients and it is well scripted and cut together. 

Broken City also features a great score by Atticus Ross who also scored the Hughes Brothers' earlier film Book Of Eli. It is a slightly ambient styled score with a mixture of soft electronics and percussion that puts the viewer into an almost surreal world of New York. It is good to see that Ross is getting more work as a film score composer after his work with industrial rock guru Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails creator) on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network for which the duo won the Academy Award. 

Though a tad convoluted, Broken City is a good, solid film that has interesting characters, an impressive first script from Brian Tucker, and is well acted. Hughes' direction is well paced and he never lets the story get bogged down by details, keeping the viewer intrigued to the very end when justice is served. The chips fall were they may in Broken City and no one is immune. Go watch!


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