Director: Allen Hughes
MPAA Rating: R
Studio: Regency Enterprises
On the heels of Les Misérables, in the new political corruption thriller Broken City, Russell Crowe wears that familiar hangdog “Who do I have to screw to get off this movie?” look the whole time. Not that we blame him.
Broken City—featuring Crowe as the mayor of New York who hires disgraced, recovering alcoholic ex-cop Mark Wahlberg to shadow his hot-to-trot wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones—isn’t so much broken as it is borrowed from better written, better directed thrillers like Chinatown or a handful of others directed by the likes of the late, lamented Alan Pakula and Sidney Lumet.
You know the drill in these things: no one is telling the truth, everyone has something to hide and the rot trickles down straight from the top. As directed by Allen Hughes (a universe away from his and brother Albert Hughes’ terrific debut flick Menace II Society), the big cover-up in Brian Tucker’s twisty screenplay leads to revelations of gazillion-dollar land development scams, sex and murder. Big shockeroo, right? Every cast member, including Kyle Chandler, Natalie Martinez, Alona Tal and Jeffrey Wright, looks uncomfortable and unconvincing. At times, the whole pulpy, bizarrely homophobic mess skates merrily close to Bad Movies We Love territory.
If only. In the end, though, Broken City is just too dull and warmed-over to make an impact. Move along, nothing to see here.