Broken City

January 18, 2013

The logic behind Broken City, the new film from director Allen Hughes and first-time writer Brian Tucker, seems to go something like this: People like the dramatic gravity that comes with a Russell Crowe performance, and people like the gritty credibility that comes with a Mark Wahlberg performance. Ergo, there's no reason people won't love the intense, gritty, drama that results when you put the two together.

Still, the cinematic calculus seems flawed here, mostly because everything about it feels derivative. Even disregarding the uninspired title, the trailer relies heavily on some very safe bets. Wahlberg, who plays an ex-cop with a speckled past, has voice and mannerism that equip him well to play decent working-class guys caught up with the wrong people. Crowe, who plays a corrupt New York City mayor, has a domineering stare that reminds you he's just barely keeping the dogs at bay. When Crowe hires Wahlberg to obtain proof of his wife's (Catherine Zeta-Jones) infidelity, it doesn't take a detective to guess how things will unfold. Wahlberg finds something he shouldn't! He gets in too deep! The future of the city (which, by the way, is broken) hangs in the balance! Will Wahlberg put aside his heretofore-amoral detachment and stand up to the forces of municipal malpractice? Yeah, probably.