The trailer for Allen Hughes' Broken City uses Kanye West's over-played "Power" as shorthand for its Neo-Noir themes about institutional corruption, personified in the eponymous metropolis' mayor (Russell Crowe) and a former police officer (Mark Wahlberg) who becomes his stern-faced pawn in a greater political scheme.
Nonetheless, the actual film still looks like a solid contemporary tale of greed and murder, ripe with all the deceitful politicians and protagonists-with-a-dark-past you expect in modern films that emulate the classic age of Noir (see: Chinatown, L.A. Confidential, etc.). Chalk that up to the accomplished cast and good direction from one-member of the Hughes Brothers (From Hell, The Book of Eli).
Broken City tells the sordid tale of ex-cop Billy Taggart (Wahlberg), who is hired by New York City Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Crowe) to investigate his unfaithful wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and determine who she's having an affair with. Taggart does just that, but realizes too late that he's now involved himself in a much larger and more dangerous scandal - one that Hostetler has ensured he cannot escape, since the politician has uncovered the dirt on Taggart's not-so-clean record.
The pulpy plot mechanics in Broken City - scripted by newcomer Brian Tucker - seem conventional, but that's to be expected in a story like this. It's the execution that makes the difference, and, as mentioned before, Hughes looks to do a good job bringing those familiar events to life in a visually-captivating manner. Wahlberg seems decent as the lead, but it's Crowe who looks to steal the show as a seedy, yet slick, villain.
Broken City boasts a supporting cast full of credible character actors, like Jeffrey Wright (Source Code), Natalie Martinez (End of Watch), Kyle Chandler (Super 8), Barry Pepper (True Grit) and Ambyr Childers (The Master). That's not exactly a shabby lineup, especially for an early-year release like this.
On the other hand, this is Hughes' first feature he directed without the assistance of his sibling Albert (whose own crime-thriller project, Motor City, is currently on indefinite hold) so that could affect the film in ways either good or bad. Broken City still seems to have the potential to be a more memorable genre exercise than Wahlberg's Contraband - in terms of cast and filmmaking talent - so that's encouraging.
Look for Broken City to open in U.S. theaters on January 18th, 2013.
Source: iTunes Movie Trailers
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