Broken City (2013)

(Video on Demand, May 2013) A corrupt politician. An ex-policeman detective with a dark past.  An election.  Mega development projects.  Allegations of infidelity.  Murder.  Standard stuff when it comes to municipal political thrillers, and perhaps the most disappointing thing about Broken City is how it simply plays along with familiar tropes, delivering them with some competence but never quite going the extra mile for something more interesting than a straightforward script brought to life with capable actors.  Mark Wahlberg is his usual blue-collar protagonist self as said ex-policeman with a dark past, whereas Russell Crowe is deliciously slimy as a mayor without scruples.  They’re surrounded by good character actors (Barry Pepper, Jeffrey Wright and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who seems to have taken on a lot of smaller roles recently) but all have to contend with a script that goes through the usual motions and sometimes not even doing that (such as with the end-of-relationship subplot).  There’s a bit of an interesting character choice at the very end, but otherwise Broken City is the kind of standard fare that you see and soon forget.  This isn’t to say that it’s bad –just that it’s without big surprises, and seems content to deliver on basic assumptions.  The New York that the characters inhabit may have been more believable at a period piece rather than the somewhat cleaner image the city now has.  Still: While Broken City may be unremarkable, it has enough narrative momentum to keep things interesting… which isn’t half-bad when compared to many similar films.

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