Broken City Movie Review

Do you love a good crime thriller movie starring some well-known actors? If so, you might be thinking of giving Broken City a try. Before you do, this review will tell you whether or not the film is worth your time.

Broken City Movie Review

Broken City is a crime thriller movie with a neo-noir style. This 2013 movie was directed by Allen Hughes, one half of the directing duo known as the Hughes brothers. Mark Wahlberg is the movie’s protagonist named Billy Taggart. 

After being accused of murder, Taggart is forced to leave the police and become a moody private investigator.

Targgart is hired by Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) to look into the activities of his wife, Cathleen Hostetler (Katherine Zeta-Jones), who he believes is having an affair.

This star-studded cast also contains Barry Pepper, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Martinez, and Kyle Chandler.

The film was harshly reviewed by critics and was a serious box office disappointment. But does the film deserve this? Here’s our review!

Our Review

The Good

When it comes to the good parts of Broken City, we sadly have very little to say.

The direction of Allen Hughes is one of the few high points of this movie. His cinematography is well-suited to this neo-noir crime caper.

The circling camera can be a little intense at times, but it is amazingly appropriate for all of the twists and turns that unfold on screen.

The darkness of the cinematography is not only expected in a noir film, but it reflects the moral darkness and ambiguity that Broken City depicts.

From murder to an affair, to hidden corruption, this film portrays the Darkness of New York not only through its plot but also through the string cinematography from Hughes.

The performances in this film aren’t out of this world but are nonetheless solid. Unfortunately, the actors are given very little to work with.

The Bad

The weakest element of this movie is undoubtedly the writing. Broken City was penned by Brian Tucker. Much of this uninspired script occurs through chance alone, not the actions of the character.

This makes the characters feel disconnected from the very plot of the movie.

This crime film is incredibly by-the-numbers. Clearly, the twist at the movie’s conclusion involving Crowe’s character is meant to be clever and unexpected. Yet, one can see it coming from a mile away.

Despite setting itself up as a gritty and realistic film, not much here is grounded.

Many of the actions of the characters feel incredibly unrealistic. As a result, it’s difficult to connect with any of the characters, no matter how charismatic the actors are.

The dialogue is particularly painful. Watching talented performers stumble through stilted dialogue is painful. Wahlberg’s Billy is particularly shortchanged, often repeating the same questions and uninspired lines of dialogue. 

Billy is a walking and talking cliche in these noir thriller films. He is searching for redemption, a quest that the audience will struggle to get behind.

Moreover, Billy is given an alcohol abuse problem, a trait that is practically mandatory for protagonists of crime thrillers from this period. Unfortunately, Broken City fails to take this plot into new and interesting territory.

Even though she has a large and important role in the film, Zeta-Jones is poorly used. Her character is given no nuance or dimensions, instead merely being an object of desire in the film.

Though his performance is good, Crowe has never been particularly good at accents. Following this tradition, his attempt at a New York accent is overflowing with inconsistencies. 

These actors all deserve much better than what the film has to offer. Often, the actors seem as though they don’t want to be here. Who can blame them? Neither did the audience!

Should You Watch Broken City?

In our opinion, very few people will enjoy watching Broken City. Even hardcore noir fans will likely be disappointed by it.

The film adds nothing new to the genre and instead uses tired tropes that you’ve likely seen hundreds of times before.

Not to mention, the film contains sex, violence, alcoholism, and strong language. As a result, it is not suitable for younger viewers. The film also includes mention of rape, which may be triggering for some viewers.

If you are a loyal fan of Crowe, Wahlberg, Zeta-Jones, or Wright, you may be compelled to watch this movie. Yet, even their star power cannot save it, resulting in a lackluster movie that isn’t worth your time. 

Final Thoughts

Broken City is nowhere near as clever as the writer and director believe it to be. Though the film contains some well-known stars, their screen presence is not enough to salvage this movie.

The result is a thriller littered with cliches and underwhelming twists that one could predict from the very start.
We give Broken City 1 out of 5 stars.

If you liked this article, you might enjoy our post on ‘People Like Us Movie Review‘.

Max Roberts