Complicated “Broken City” better off condemned

Mark Wahlberg has come a long way since the world associated him with the Funky Bunch. He starred in “The Departed” and “The Fighter,” but he has also led some stinkers such as “Planet of the Apes” and “Max Payne.”

“Broken City,” Wahlberg’s new film, features Marky Mark as an ex-police officer turned private investigator. The story revolves around an upcoming New York mayoral election in which his character Billy Taggart plays a devious role. The story is a politically driven commentary on our democratic society, but does the movie spend too much time on statements rather than quality?

Austin Flynn: Director Allen Hughes wanted to say something about what happens with backhanded politicians, and the message is loud and clear. However, it didn’t make for an interesting or even coherent storyline. I understand Russell Crowe was a corrupt politician who used unconventional get-out-the-vote strategies, but I didn’t really care. I never rooted for Wahlberg or against Crowe because the plot and characters didn’t grab my attention, which is a shame because I really enjoy the cast.

Provided Photo

Provided Photo

Karsten Burgstahler: Wahlberg never grabbed my attention, but I have to disagree about Crowe. His performance is over-the-top and frankly not that great, but he clearly relishes the evil role. Crowe’s and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ back-and-forth dialogue is snappy, but viewers sadly don’t get enough. We have Barry Pepper as Crowe’s mayoral opponent, Jack Valliant (ha ha, get it?), which is a somewhat awkward performance. Jeffrey Wright seems to have fun as well, but he certainly has too little screen time. Then there’s the dialogue. Valliant takes a higher taxes speech directly out of President Obama’s mouth. If you’re going to quote the president, at least give him some credit. No matter your political affiliations, the thinly-veiled allegories don’t exactly create a fun Friday night at the movies. As the plot attempts political statements, it delivers plot twists so convoluted viewers will feel the movie is intentionally punching them in the face.

AF: There is also a cheap attempt to give Wahlberg a complicated past as the stereotypical alcoholic who quit the sauce for a girl, but it spirals when his girlfriend calls it quits. The movie then takes a bizarre turn with a montage scene that depicts Wahlberg drinking and stumbling around New York and fighting strangers. This scene halts the movie and left me wondering what I was watching. The film’s remainder tries to build suspense and mystery but only convolutes itself even more. “Broken City” had potential with a fairly strong cast, but it is too politically focused and fails to create a clear story. This definitely isn’t Wahlberg’s finest film, but who knows? Maybe the new Transformers movie will redeem him. I won’t hold my breath, though.

KB: Wahlberg’s career is a roller coaster, but I’ll give him a pass here because the film had potential. Maybe a different writer could have created a more concise thriller. Plot holes plague the film. How does no one recognize Wahlberg after his character’s major police scandal? Why is Wahlberg left to wallow in his alcoholism? “Broken City” is proof that no matter how many stars are casted to deliver a subpar dialogue, they can’t save a crummy script and complex plot twists. No matter how many repairmen are brought in, “Broken City” can’t be fixed.

1hr 49min‎ – ‎Rated R‎ – ‎Drama‎



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About Austin Flynn

Austin Flynn can be reached at or 536-3311 ext.252.

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