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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Broken City (2013)


If Mayor Nutter ever needs somebody to watch his woman, he can always give me a call. He just better drop my taxes.

An ex-cop (Mark Wahlberg) finds himself in a job for New York City’s mayor (Russell Crowe), which is that he must trail his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whom he believes is having an affair. However, what the ex-cop stumbles upon is worse than he ever imagined and thus, the job becomes a lot more difficult than he expected.

This is one of those movies that seems like it has all of the promise with the cast, the characters, the plot, the stars, and heck, even the director (Allen Hughes, in his first movie without bro Albert by his side) all being big and well-respected. However, just like Gangster Squad, it is January, and you can’t always expect the best, no matter who may be behind it all. Why can’t it just be May already? Why?!?!??

As a director all by his lonesome, Hughes is actually not too bad. Granted, this isn’t a very showwy-direction for the type of dude that is known for this type of stuff, but he gives us a nice atmosphere and mood to start us off on the right foot. We feel as if we are in for a movie that’s all about dark stuff, happening to dark people, in dark ways, that are almost too dark to explain and believe. Basically, this movie was started-off as being one, big, piece of darkness that was most likely going to keep me guessing until the very end and for awhile; it was doing just that.

I don’t want to say that all of the twists and turns of this story work when you take everything else into consideration, but for the most part, I liked not knowing exactly where the story could go and how. Rarely do you ever get thrillers that just like to throw plot-twists for fun, but actually have them mean something, rather than just be a wake-up call to the audience and make sure they’re paying attention. You never quite know where this story could go and even the places that it does end-up, could actually take you by surprise and make you feel like this is a no-holds-barred movie, that’s ready to take you down any chance it can get. However, that would definitely be giving the movie way too much credit.

"What do you mean you thought Hugh did better?"

“What do you mean you thought Hugh did better?”

Even though the twists, the turns, the darkness, the secrets, and big reveals kept me interested in what was going on behind the closed doors we rarely get a glimpse at, they didn’t feel deserved. It was almost as if the movie itself thought, “Well, we already have these twists here, why not throw in a couple more just for good measure?”. That idea that I maybe think the creators thought up of in their heads during the writing-process, only goes to show you that there wasn’t much thought going into this script, because certain things just don’t add up. We get a look at how the world of politics can be cruel and why it’s more of a fight between the toughest, rather than the smartest, but those moments only get shoved down our throats when the movie feels like it needs to be more than just a natural-thriller where Marky Mark is going around and kicking the crap out of people.

Then, it just gets stranger and more contrived, as more subplots come in like a gay couple that seems as forced as can be, a problem with Marky Mark’s drinking problem, a love story between him and his gal-pal that has the material there to be interesting and gripping, but just isn’t due to the delivery, and a plot that shows Mark’s past and how the “hood” he used to represent, may not always be there. You put these three factors in, add a bit of the political-idea of this flick, and mix them altogether in a blender; then you’re most likely going to get a mixed-bag full of moments that work, but other moments, that just don’t add up to anything. I think where I’m trying to get at with this flick, is that even though you get into it, the movie is still nothing more than just a thriller, no matter how many debates and arguments they want to throw in there about changing NYC, by giving “the People” they’re money back. In today’s day and age, with the economy we have, maybe messages like that would work and really get inside the minds of many, fellow Americans, but put that message in a movie like this: it’s going to go nowhere and not matter a single-bit. Why? Well, because people paid over $9 to see Marky Mark and Maximilian go head-to-head, not discuss on how to make the world/NYC a better place to live free and be happy in. Yeah, wrong movie entirely.

Marky Mark definitely seems like he’s made for these types of roles where he plays the type of conflicted dude that may not have the best morals you have ever seen, but is still a hell of a likable dude that you can’t help but cheer on. His role here, as Bobby, is exactly one of THOSE roles and it’s not something new, original, or slightly refreshing to see from the guy, but it doesn’t matter, because Wahlberg is good, as always, and gives us more to like about this character. However, it’s that character himself I just didn’t believe.

"I told you, Michael. The doctor said only 3 times a month for sex, or else."

“I told you, Michael: the doctor said only 3 times a month for sex, or else no Wall Street 3.”

Without spoiling too much about this plot and basically telling you what goes down with Mark and everybody else, I’m just going to state that Mark’s character goes through some sort of self-realization phase where he soon starts to find-out that there’s a set-up somewhere along the lines, and it’s up to him to not only save the day, but show the bad people, for everything that they are: bad people. In any movie where Wahlberg does the same, exact transformation, not only do you believe it, but you like Wahlberg more and more cause you see the cool guy come out of his performance, but here, you just don’t care. Billy is one of those dudes that’s got a troubled-past and some issues that he’s dealing with at the present-time, but never so much to the point of where I feel like the guy would really turn his life around and eventually go balls-deep in a case, that doesn’t seem like it concerned him, well, ever. I can’t give away anymore of what happens, but trust me; you won’t believe in Bobby, no matter how much Wahlberg may distract you with those big guns and crooked, angry eyebrows.

Out of the cast, the two that really shine are probably Jeffrey Wright and Russell Crowe, who both feel as if they were just called-up to have a good time, and do exactly that. Especially Crowe, who seems like he needed to give the audience a nice-reminder that yes, even though he can’t sing, he can sure as hell own the screen like no other. I mean, hell, the guy has an Oscar at his household, and has been nominated close to three times by now! The guy’s got talent, it just doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in his vocal-chords. Oh well, nice to see you back, Russell. Now, stay away from Broadway musical-adaptations!

Consensus: The promise that lies within Broken City is exactly there for the first 45 minutes or so, but once the flick decides to spice things up with an over-abundance of plots, twists, conventions, and obvious-narratives that don’t feel believable, then it just loses all of it’s steam and is nothing more than just another thriller, with more talking than usual.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Of course I'll say hello to my mother for a face like that!

Of course I’ll say hello to my mother for a face like that.

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22 responses to “Broken City (2013)

  1. keith7198 January 18, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Disappointing. I had started losing hope for this one after the steady barrage of bad reviews from critics started. And I’m such a big Crowe fan. I was hoping for more here!

  2. rodders January 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    And the trailer looked pretty promising, its a shame.

  3. filmhipster January 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Sounds like another generic ‘Marky Mark’ endevour. Definitely a rental.

  4. VictorsMovieReviews January 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Good review. Nice observations about the moments that don’t add up to anything.

    I hadn’t heard about this film until a saw a trailer for it two weeks ago. Big cast, no marketing, January release, this can’t be good. You confirmed it.

  5. brikhaus January 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I figured this would be pretty bad. Thanks for the confirmation.

  6. Emma January 19, 2013 at 12:22 am

    I have never been a fan of Russell Crowe – I only watched Les Mis recently because of the storyline and other characters. So this is probably not for me, but it was a good review.

  7. Fogs' Movie Reviews January 21, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    “Why can’t it just be May already? Why?!?!??” Spoken like a true reviewer. Amen, brother, amen. I’d even take March!

    Youre totally right, Dan, this movie isn’t half as clever as it needs to be in order to be the movie it wants to be. :( Sad, too, I thought the cast did a good job across the board.

  8. AngryVader (Erik) January 21, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    It’s definitely too twisty for it’s own good and not as smart as it wants to be, but I still was entertained by the performances. I just wish the script matched the level of the cast. Good review, Dan.

  9. Alex Withrow January 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Was wondering if I should bother with this one in the theater, and I suppose not. Rental it is!

    Also, really digging the new look of the site, Dan. Very clean.

  10. Chris January 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I didn’t really think that all the sub-plots bogged the film down at all, though a lot of them did seem to kinda go nowhere. And, in fact, that was the last lingering feeling I had as the credits began to roll, that the film just felt flat. I wouldn’t call it bad, not at all. I just think the film probably played things way too safe. It’s enjoyable enough, but, as you said, it’s really just another forgettable January release.

  11. Pingback: Broken City Review: Completely Beyond Repair | Rorschach Reviews

  12. r361n4 January 23, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Great review, I had basically the same problems as you did (for me, nearly every single part of the movie feels forced, from the sub-plots to the attempts at comedy) but I think the biggest thing I disagree on is that I really did not care for Russell Crowe here. His accent was just too fake to me, but I suppose the bad writing made it had for him to shine even aside from that.

    also, lol, definitely more talking than usual, totally agree with you there

  13. Pingback: LAMBScores: Mama's Last Stand in the Broken City | The Large Association of Movie Blogs

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