Broken City is director Allen Hughes’ (one half of the Hughes brothers) first solo directorial venture. With a heavily star-studded cast including the likes of Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg and Catherine Zeta Jones, Broken City released to very high expectations.
The film narrates the story of how the mayor of New York City saves a cop from getting prosecuted for murder for shooting someone accused of rape and murder. The cop gives up his service and becomes a private investigator, taking pictures and exposing petty lies to earn his living. He is called upon by the mayor seven year later, right before the mayoral elections, to find out who the mayor’s wife is having an affair with. The story then plunges into the lies which the mayor has been covering up, the cop finding these lies, and a certain dilemma he needs to deal with. All this is amidst some short, but well-shot action sequences, a handful of humorous dialogues, and an endless wait for the movie to progress further.
In terms of direction and cinematography, the movie does well, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where the 35 million USD which was invested into the film went, when exposed to some fancy aerial overhead shots and of course, the action sequences. However, where the film fails to cross the line towards good cinema is its terribly slow narrative. Furthermore, the screenplay does not keep pace with the camerawork and the editing, since both are paced pretty fast. In fact, the first half is almost a complete waste since the real story starts only in the latter half of the film. Sometime in the middle, the viewer cannot help but wonder how the events being shown have any relevance to the plot of the movie.
All the actors perform well, though their capabilities have been severely limited by the script. Towards the end, the screenplay falls flat, right when one expects a brilliant climax to end it all. Overall, Broken City disappoints and does not deserve a hundred and nine minutes of the viewer’s attention. The movie starts on a high, and then gradually goes downhill till it hits the pit.