Some evenings at the theater, the marquee only has two choices: $200 million action blockbusters and $5,000 found-footage camcorder flicks. If you’re yearning for a simple, mid-sized film with no CGI monsters and at least two famous actors, Broken City offers an R-rated option for fans of crime drama in general and tough-talking guys in particular. It’s a capable primer for anyone who’s never seen a film about political scandal or government corruption, and comfort food for those who can’t get enough of watching little guys taking down big dogs.
Mark Wahlberg is Billy Taggart, a former policeman who lost his badge over a controversial incident involving a homicidal rapist. He now runs his own PI business, though his clients are mostly deadbeats and his photos are amateurish. Russell Crowe is NYC Mayor Nicholas Hostetler, up for yet another reelection and riding high publicity on the sale of the low-income Bolton Village tenement area for a cool four billion bucks, nicely covering the city’s billion-dollar deficit and leaving plenty of surplus to earn him good Election Day will. Hostetler faces challenges on two fronts: his election opponent, smarmy upper-crust councilman Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper, who turns from stiff-upper-lip to unsettling devastation when things go wrong for him); and his wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones, an Oscar-winning placeholder), who may be cheating on him. Or he may be paranoid. Or evil.