Broken City Blu-ray Review
Most big stars eventually have an opportunity to take a role that allows them to show their acting range to potentially be an Oscar contender. Sadly, most of those films are, like BROKEN CITY, not very good. I can almost envision the pitch taking place with Wahlberg, explaining his characters emotional journey, the slight action elements mixed with drama that define BROKEN CITY from beginning to end. He already had a great turn in THE FIGHTER (2010) though he didn’t get as much love as his costars. I guess he thought this would be a good chance but it just doesn’t work and BROKEN CITY is a drama at a snail’s pace.
Some of the marketing for BROKEN CITY said words to the effect of When everyone has a motive, how do you know who to trust? The answer, apparently, is a convoluted script where nobody receives full attention and none of the characters ever really go anywhere. Mark Wahlberg (TED) stars as Billy Taggart, former NYPD-turned-private investigator. He was forced to leave the force when he was charged with murdering a young man in the line of duty. When the charges didn’t stick, apparently thanks to some evidence being hidden by the Mayor and Chief of Police, he was forced to retire.
BROKEN CITY picks up seven years later. Taggart has a business but he’s barely making ends meet, so he naturally takes a job from the Mayor (played by Russell Crowe) to find out if his wife is having an affair. The mayoral election is in full swing and with days remaining, Mayor Hostetler says he doesn’t want any surprises coming out and ruining his chance to keep the office. Of course, nothing is at it seems, and the further Taggart gets in the investigation, the worse things look for the Mayor.
This is one of those movies where everyone seems to have a motive for doing unseemly things. The key to a movie like this is to get the audience involved to the point where we figure things out WITH the protagonist. That means we have to care about what and why things are happening, and we have to have enough information about the characters and their motivations to understand (whether we accept them or not) the reasons behind their actions. BROKEN CITY never makes this connection. The only character with a reasonable arc is Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) but even his journey doesn’t have any real meat to it.
Like many “Hollywood” films, more time is spent on the action elements (which are too few and far between) and getting big names rather than procuring a great script and developing characters in a ‘real’ world. Taggart’s journey in the film feels very contrived, including his relationship with his girlfriend (tied to the incident from seven years ago). But the same can be said of all the relationships in BROKEN CITY. No one exists further than mere caricature, including Hostetler (Crowe) and his wife, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. All in all, BROKEN CITY is just mediocre. The actors thankfully add some weight to their roles but in the end is isn’t nearly enough to atone for the pace and poor writing. A poor outing from actors and a director I usually enjoy.
Video: (1080p, 2.40:1 Widescreen) The visuals on BROKEN CITY are great and director Hughes definitely accomplished the ‘noir’ style he was attempting. The city is crisp and gritty, making me long to return to NYC.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) BROKEN CITY features a phenomenal, gripping audio track that pulls you in (even after you’ve completely lost interest in the story).
Deleted Scenes (08:35) Eight scenes are presented here, including BROKEN CITY’s alternative ending. There is a little more character development here, adding to some of the conflict in Taggart’s relationship with his girlfriend. The scenes with the girlfriend add a great deal and really should have been included but they would have hurt the pace of the film (which is already abhorrent).
Putting It All Together (34:59) Director Allen Hughes provides input on his vision for BROKEN CITY, putting together a contemporary Noir film. This is an eight-part documentary feature with lots of interesting tidbits from cast and crew, though I’m not sure why anyone would want to check it out after watching BROKEN CITY. If you enjoy the film, you’ll probably enjoy this short documentary. Otherwise just avoid the entire thing.
The BROKEN CITY Blu-ray package also comes with the standard UltraViolet digital copy, an iTunes compatible digital copy (kudos to Fox for continuing to include these), the Theatrical Trailer (02:19), and a few sneak peeks at other upcoming titles.