Allen Hughes’ Broken City has been taking a beating by critics, mostly being deemed as too predictable. And while I can’t disagree with this assessment, it also seems to miss what Broken City is really all about. While I rarely like throwing this term around, Hughes’ film is the epitome of “good for what it is” — in fact, it might be a bit better than that, which is a professionally crafted piece of hard-boiled neo-noir. The film follows Billy Taggert (Mark Wahlberg), an ex-New York City cop who had to leave the force after he murdered an alleged rapist. Seven years after this, Billy is a private eye with a shaky practice and a would-be actress (Natalie Gonzalez) girlfriend. But Billy gets a break when New York’s Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) hires him to look into his wife’s (Catherine Zeta-Jones) suspected infidelity. Billy soon sets out on the case, but in the grand tradition of pulp fiction, no one and nothing is what it seems, as the plot twists and turns on itself, and our hero finds himself falling deeper and deeper down the convoluted rabbit hole of deceit, murder, and violence. Much of what happens — especially if you’ve seen the trailer — can be seen coming from the opening act. But this doesn’t mean the film is devoid of surprises, since Hughes has assembled a movie that acts more as a character study, and is more intent on pulling interest out of the small details.
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