Directed by: Allen Hughes
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones
After the success of Contraband Mark Wahlberg fans were excited for another post-holiday action flick from him. When the trailers hit theaters and the web it was apparent that Broken City film wasn’t going to be that. Broken City did however taught a really strong ensemble cast with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Russell Crowe carrying some of the load along with Wahlberg.
To do something less standard action and more of a smart thriller seems like a smart, if predictable move for star Mark Wahlberg. The guy has shown over and over again that he has acting chops and is capable of doing more, and portraying more, than just a tough guy with a gun. So Broken City sets out on a character driven journey with the goal of being a slick and smart thriller with a cast that can bring life to their roles. Allen Hughes made this film a solo directing effort for himself stepping away once again from the popular duo that was he and his brother. The Hughes Brothers are responsible for films such as From Hell (a comic book adaptation actually), Menace II Society, and Dead Presidents.
Broken City has a lot going on for itself. The characters are successfully complex and full of depth and there’s a lot of commentary throughout the running time that touches on politics, the media, and people’s interpretations of politics based on biased opinion rather than fact. The characters are meatier because they aren’t just good guys and bad guys; they’re more realistically positioned in a gray area. Even the ones that mean well are still doing the right thing because some part of what they’re doing is a benefit to them. You find yourself thinking that if there was no personal benefit that they might not be making the decisions they are making even if those decisions are the right ones.
The problem is that too much focus was put into the sub commentary and the ideas of the film and not enough on the basic narrative. There’s back stabbings and story twists like you’d expect but many of the decisions defy real world logic and even worse they defy the movie logic set by the characters that are involved. Too often in the second half of the film things just don’t make sense. What you’d hope for when something like a twist or reveal happens is a call back to some earlier event in the film that defines the reasoning for the twist but it just doesn’t happen here. Honestly this script needed a couple of more passes to hammer out the narrative and to clean up the pacing of the story. It is possible to craft gray area characters that are still likeable but that also doesn’t happen here. No one character is charismatic enough to make us root for him or her. The issue isn’t with the actors because they all did a fine job: the script again just needed more attention.
Broken City should have been fantastic but it just isn’t. I say that actually being able to feel the passion behind the film during its runtime and that makes me sad. I’ll look forward to giving this one another look with what I hope are some bonus features such as commentary or documentaries that will give me some idea of the intention of the film and some explanation of how it eventually came to be. This was a VOD release of the film that came available before the blu-ray which is a new trend forming in the industry. It’s a little too early to tell if it’s a good thing or not.
I watched the film on an iPad, which honestly might have some effect on the appreciation of films the first time they’re watched, but this is at the core how movies from iTunes are intended to be watched. Overall the film is a bit dark and sometimes the detail is lost a bit in those darker scenes. The HD presentation overall is pretty solid though and it looks great on the retina display. Colors are washed out a bit as they were meant to be. It’s not the best presentation we’re likely to see of the film but for a mobile presentation it looks pretty great.
The audio is basic stereo here and it’s a little tinny overall. Now that may be due to the iPad speakers but again this is an iTunes presentation so I’m viewing it as it’s meant to be seen. With that said dialogue is clean and always front and center in the mix so following the story is pretty easy throughout the film.
Presentation and Bonus Features
There were no bonus features provided with this release and the artwork is representative of what we’ll see on the DVD packaging, basically two head shots of the movie’s stars. It’s not bad art just not particularly creative art and considering the film itself that might be perfectly appropriate. As far as bonus features go more often these days films and TV shows are getting at least a few bonus features especially on vudu so to mention whether they exist on iTunes releases is valid.
Broken City strives for a lot but just doesn’t hit the mark (nudge nudge). Sadly the film doesn’t barely miss the mark; it misses it by a long way. Zeta-Jones is gorgeous as always and Crowe does manage to bring on his signature intensity but none of it is enough this time around.
Overall (Not an average) 3/0
The Movie 3/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 6/10
The Presentation and Bonus Features 1/10
Overall (Not an average) 3/0