Slick thriller

Tags: Films, Hollywood
A tough ex-cop-turned detective faces off with a slippery politician in Allen Hughes’ latest offering to set the stage for a slick thriller. Written by Brian Tucker, Broken City brings together an unusual cast for a new chemistry – the film stars Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and the delicious Catherine Zeta-Jones. Kyle Chandler and Barry Pepper round up the cast.

The mayor of New York City, Nicholas Hostetler (Crowe, in a hairstyle that does absolutely, absolutely nothing for the Gladiator), hires former cop Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) to see if his wife (Jones) is cheating on him. Taggart is also tasked with finding out the cheating partner is. The private eye confirms the mayor’s suspicions, believing that the case is over and done with.

But when Hostetler’s wife’s lover turns up dead, Taggart finds himself in a hotbed of trouble. Clearly, the mayor commits crimes that are far more heinous than stuffing ballot boxes. Double-crossed and then framed by NYC’s most powerful political personality, Taggart must now seek redemption and revenge in a “broken city” where injustice is rampant.

The tough detective, refusing to bow down to power and be another of the mayor’s minions, focuses instead on the morally ambiguous politician’s business. No surprises when skeletons start tumbling out of Hostetler’s till-now squeaky-clean closet. Taggart uncovers a real-estate scandal that involves the mayor dealing himself city-owned properties. On his quest for justice, he turns into an unstoppable force — and the mayor’s worst nightmare.

Broken City is the first solo feature for Hughes, who spent the past two decades as one half of the Hughes Brothers. With Albert Hughes, he has earlier co-directed Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, From Hell, American Pimp and post-apocalyptic thriller The Book of Eli.

His political corruption drama brings Wahlberg and Crowe head to head. The pairing is unusual, but they seem to have the chemistry required for a thriller like this. Crowe plays the wily politician with gusto, while Wahlberg nails the tough cop act. Jones, however, deserved better. A regular trailer song, Kanye West’s Power, peps up the background for the struggle of power. So who comes out on top? And wrests power?

Speaking about why Broken City was his choice to fly solo, Hughes said the material “plays to my strengths”. The 1970s, when Sidney Lumet and Roman Polanski were doing some of their best work – “basically good old fashioned storytelling, fused with the urgency of the times” — provided inspiration for Hughes. “It’s a great script,” he said.

For some strange reason, Wahlberg’s face kept popping up in the director’s mind while he was reading the script – and somehow the actor ended up earning producing stripes as well. Wahlberg, who showed off his edgy style in The Departed, will next be seen in Broken City. Crowe, meanwhile, has a lot in his kitty: Les Misérables, an adaption of the popular musical in which he will portray Javert; Man of Steel where he will play Jor-El, the father of Superman; and Noah in which he will play the titular biblical patriarch. But will the duo make a killing at the box office? We’ll keep you posted.

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