Sometimes the trailer is the best thing about a movie. Other times it doesn’t do the film justice, making it seem far more routine than it really is.
Such is the case with “Broken City,” which looks like just another urban thriller with Mark Wahlberg flexing his usual “you-talkin’-to-me?” East Coast attitude. The reality is that, while “Broken City“ is hardly revolutionary, it’s a slyly entertaining cop saga that leans more heavily on acting and dialogue than gunplay and chases.
Wahlberg is Billy Taggart, a New York City detective who left the force under a cloud seven years ago after a high-profile shooting. Now, he’s a low-rent private eye who has been reduced to taking incriminating photos of wayward spouses. To add financial insult to career injury, he then has to hound his loutish clients to get paid.
DIRECTED BY: Allen Hughes
STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Natalie Martinez and Alona Tal
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
So when the pugnacious mayor (Russell Crowe) summons Billy to his office, says he thinks the city’s first lady (Catherine Zeta-Jones) has been playing around, and offers him $50,000 to come up with the goods, he is more than happy to take the job.
Becomes a nightmare
But the payday soon turns into a nightmare as Billy realizes that what seemed like a simple love triangle is really a complex web of political corruption and civic chicanery.
As directed by Allen Hughes — in his first film that he didn’t co-direct with brother Albert (“The Book of Eli,” “Dead Presidents” and “Menace II Society”) — “Broken City” is more in the spirit of a gumshoe classic of a previous era. People have real conversations, the puzzle at the heart of the plot is genuinely intriguing, and Wahlberg and Crowe — who, thankfully, isn’t called on to sing as in “Les Miserables” — turn in strong performances as their relationship shifts from cordial to hostile.
The script, written by newcomer Brian Tucker, also includes some welcome touches of light humor, often provided by the jokey relationship Billy has with his assistant, Katy (Alona Tal, TV’s “Supernatural”).
Certainly, “Broken City” is no “Chinatown,” with which it shares some story line similarities. But it also doesn’t devolve into predictable action and easy resolutions, which gives it a leg up on its multiplex competition.
Now it just needs a new trailer.