Broken City – Film Review


An ex-cop turned private eye (Mark Wahlberg) is called in by the mayor who asked him to resign (Russell Crowe) so that he can carry out an incredibly lucrative surveillance job to see if the mayor’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is having an affair. All is not as it seems and as he investigates the mayor’s wife the detective unravels a plot of political corruption and conspiracy.

With a synopsis like that you might well be expecting a taut political thriller filled with intrigue and misdirection that deftly unfolds with a stylish twist at the end. Sadly this is not what is on offer in Broken City. Instead we have a run-down shell of a thriller then doesn’t so much unfold as creak open with a judder. It’s hard to put my finger on precisely what is wrong with the film so I’m increasingly convinced that it may well be everything.

Broken City - Mark Wahlberg & Russell Crowe

An early scene features a conversation between the mayor and the police captain (Jeffrey Wright) in which both are acutely aware that they are in a political thriller. As if competing to set the dark tone of the film both actors are doing their best deep gravely voice, think Batman and Bane, which makes the conversation tricky to comprehend and lends the film an air of satire from the outset. In the same room later on another conversation takes place and while Wahlberg doesn’t try to get his voice nice and low the camera serves as a massive distraction and it bobs about the room while its subject sit still on chairs.

The film is just ridiculous.

Broken City - Russell Crowe & Catherine Zeta Jones

Catherine Zeta-Jones does her best to give a vampy performance as the mysterious mayor’s wife but when you put this alongside Mark Wahlberg giving his usual wide-eye Neanderthal performance it all becomes too mismatched. They aren’t helped by the script either filled as it is with weak dialogue and poor plotting. I’m not even going to get into the bizarre sub-plot involving Wahlberg’s girlfriend making an independent film which somehow looks even worse that Broken City itself.

In a world where we have access to TV shows like Boss and House of Cards in which we are shown just how good a political thriller can be there is no reason for such a sub-par film to be made. If this is the best that cinema has to offer it is no wonder that more and more talent is heading to the smaller screen.

Broken City was bad enough for me to question whether or not is was actually a parody but in the end it wasn’t nearly clever enough for that to be the case. The film is as ham-fisted as Mark Wahlberg’s face. And as lazy and confused as the previous sentence.

Psst… The film does have one redeeming feature. In a climactic final scene Jeffrey Wright delivers a line that reminded me of one of the three endings to the film Clue:

I’m going home to have sex with my wife.

The Next Three Days – Review

I saw The Next Three Days a few months back but was so uninspired that it’s only now that it is coming out that I can be bothered to review it.

What we have here is a dull, implausible thriller(?) that follows a teacher trying to free his wife from prison after she is arrested for murder. Russell Crowe is passable as the teacher in distress but can’t quite convince that this regular Joe is capable of breaking anyone out of anywhere.

As the wife in question, Elizabeth Banks does a good job of playing an ambiguous character as I was never quite convinced of her innocence. This ambiguity did however stop me from rooting for Crowe as I’d rather his possible homicidal wife stayed in prison.

The film does feature plenty of failures along Crowe’s journey to freeing his wife, an attempt to ground the fanciful film in realism that mostly succeeds in making the movie overly long and downright boring.

If you were thinking that despite all these flaws you still want to see the film for a bit of Liam Neeson or Olivia Wilde then you will be disappointed. Both are completely underused and their roles have very specific plot devices to perform. Neither character is developed but covers a plot hole and nothing more.

Reviews seem positive for The Next Three Days but in reality it is a dull, over-long and ridiculous thriller.

Why Robin Hood Won’t Be Any Good, Maybe

A new trailer for Ridley Scott’s upcoming Robin Hood arrived online today but I have more than mild concern about the way the movie was developed.

At first the project was called Nottingham, giving a unique telling of the story from the Sheriff of Nottingham’s point of view with Russell Crowe as the Sheriff.

Then there were rewrites and the story focused on both the Sheriff and Robin Hood with Crowe playing both roles, possibly as the same character bringing an even more unique telling of the story. Then of course there were rewrites and the film became Robin Hood all about Robin Hood as played by Crowe.

I worry about any film that completely overhauls it’s plot through rewrites rather than simply refining the script. I’d have preferred a fresh take on the story or even just an English actor; its a crime that Cary Elwes is the only English actor to have portrayed him. Of course I could be completely wrong and we could have a new, more foresty, Gladiator. Either way the new trailer is below, though you’ve probably already seen it.