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July 13, 2014, 10:55 am

Dirty business abounds in ‘Broken City’

It's no secret that politics can be a dirty business, and political corruption runs rampant in the high-action suspense thriller "Broken City," starring Mark Wahlberg and Academy Award winner Russell Crowe.

Now open in theaters, the riveting, fast-paced "Broken City," directed by Allen Hughes, marks the feature film debut of screenwriter Brian Tucker.

On a bleak night in New York, with sirens blaring in the background, a young man is lying in the street with a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead. Standing over him with a smoking gun in his hand is officer Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg). Flash forward to a courtroom where Taggart is on trial for murder. Just as the verdict is about to be announced, Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) makes a single phone call, and just like that, Taggart is pronounced innocent and cleared of all charges. He is then summoned to the mayor's office, where Hostetler makes it abundantly clear that he played a major role in Taggart being exonerated.      

Seven years pass and Taggart, who has moved on, is now making his living as a private investigator, with the able assistance of the clever Katy Bradshaw (Alona Tal). One day, he gets a phone call from Hostetler, who is running for re-election, wants to hire Taggart for a case, and is willing to pay $50,000.00 for his services.

Hostetler claims that his beautiful wife, Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones), is cheating on him, and hires Taggart to identify the "other man." However, when people begin to turn up dead, he begins to wonder if there's something that the mayor isn't telling him. By the time he figures out that Hostetler, who is involved in all kinds of treachery, has set him up, Taggart is in way over his head, with his freedom, and maybe even his life at stake.  

Although there is little evidence of him in the promos, the grossly under-rated Jeffrey Wright, a cinematic chameleon who can morph into an astounding array of characters, portrays Commissioner Carl Fairbanks. who isn't exactly squeaky clean either. While he's not above torturing a confession out of Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), Hostetler's political opponent, Fairbanks still wants to see the incredibly corrupt mayor brought to justice.

Wahlberg, who has a believable "everyman" quality about him, gives a gritty performance as the flawed ex-cop who initially appears to be no match for a polished professional politician such as Hostetler. However, once he realizes that he has been played, their high-stakes chess game turns into a deadly game of "chicken."

In the hands of Hughes, who teamed up with his twin brother Albert to direct "Mence II Society" and "Dead Presidents," Brian Tucker's suspenseful screenplay makes the most of Wahlberg's fearless physicality, Wright's sophisticated, cerebral approach, and Crowe's confident swagger. Did Billy Taggart get away with murder? Will Mayor Hostetler? Like I said, politics can be a dirty business...(Rated: R)

Celebrity Soundbytes: Director Allen Hughes on politics and power: "In politics, you've got people that either want to really change things, or really want power, and even those people that really want to change things, along the way - much like Billy Taggart in this movie, he took a step that was like, 'This young lady was raped and killed, and I'm going to take the law in my own hands.' This is one form of justice...power corrupts. It corrupted Billy Taggart early in his career, and that's where the movie starts." Mark Wahlberg (on doing his own stunts): "I'll be honest with you. I love beating the sh** out of people, but I don't like to get it kicked out of me! Now at 41 and being a father of four, if it's something where I'm just gonna jump out of the window, land on the car and hurt my back, hell, no! I've two guys that look just like me ready to go. But in this particular movie, we wanted the fights to be very real. There wasn't a lot of violence shown on the screen, but the violence that we did show, we wanted it to be impactful."

 

Contact Entertainment Reporter Kimberly C. Roberts at (215) 893-5753 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .