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Broken City


Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alona Tal, Natalie Martinez, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler, Michael Beach, Griffin Dunne

Director: Allen Hughes

This political thriller certainly takes a long time to catch fire. Hey, wait a minute, it never really does. The presence of Crowe and Zeta-Jones among the stars might lift your spirits, but the name of Wahlberg among the producers is not a good sign: films the actor co-produces himself are rarely much good. And so it proves here.

The film opens in the past, with Wahlberg, as cop Billy Taggart, escaping a murder charge at the expense of his career, after offing the hood who raped the sister of the woman (Martinez), who would later become Billy's wife.

Seven years later, the city's corrupt mayor (Crowe) hires Billy, now a divorce-case private eye, to identify the man bedding his wife (Zeta-Jones). With the help of his devoted PA (Naomi Watts-lookalike Tal), Billy gets the goods Crowe needs. But meanwhile his own marriage falls apart when Martinez, an actress, takes the lead in a soft-porn movie.

Not particularly fast-paced, the film takes a long time to achieve not very much, its dialogue ranging from the ordinary to the inept. When Martinez winces at the sight of Wahlberg coming home with a beat-up ear, he chides her with 'I thought you liked raw meat'. 'I'm a vegetarian,' she replies. Who writes such senseless stuff?

You want the film to be good, and indeed it occasionally threatens to be another Chinatown, but fatally carries no cutting edge.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour.
109 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 23 Feb 2013