Broken City [Blu-Ray] Allen Hughes

Broken City [Blu-Ray] Allen Hughes
3
On the half-hour "Putting it All Together" supplement included with the Blu-Ray of Broken City, director Allen Hughes describes his cinematic condemnation of the rich white man as a modern film noir. In fact, everyone interviewed uses this term ad nauseum, expanding upon the positioning of antihero Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg), a partially disgraced ex-cop (now P.I.) with dark secrets, against a corrupt man of influence, NYC mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe). Billy, struggling with finances at his new firm — something outlined very briefly and illogically in a phone call montage, with clients refusing to pay — accepts a gig tailing the Mayor's wife, Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones), to determine if she's having an affair. Little does he know that finding her with Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler), the campaign manager for Hostetler's political opponent, Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), is just the beginning of his problems with corrupt officials. Even though Hughes's presentation of noir tropes is clumsy and superficial at best, never really understanding the lighting or the fact that this genre emerged from Cold War paranoia, this set up does hold enough intrigue and suspense to sustain a narrative and audience investment. It even manages to compensate for some of the more laboured, cartoonish dialogue imposed upon every female character in the film. But once gunshots are fired and a mid-movie subplot about Billy fighting with his actress girlfriend hits — their relationship is never defined or established, leaving the eventual conflict confounding and pointless — Broken City flies off the rails and continues to devolve into laughable territory. Obviously, the double-crosses and mysterious real estate deal mirror a modern economy where the affluent exploit the lower classes for profit. But since the fundamentals of financial trickery aren't understood here anymore than human motivations, this political slant is limited to a very vague on-stage debate between Valliant and Hostetler about taxes and buy-outs. Similarly, while Billy is given attributes that suggest a shady disposition — a history of alcoholism and the work-related shooting of an urban youth — his reasons for using violence at the will of ill-defined police Captain Carl Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright) on the grieving mayoral hopeful to extract information about a shooting never makes a lick of sense. Really, nothing about this rather sloppy faux-"noir" has any internal logic or rational trajectory, which is why the inevitable moral plea, framed by a mirror where forced introspection is imposed, is funnier than it is cathartic. It also doesn't help that Hughes inexplicably uses slow motion imagery at anti-climactic moments, exaggerating the incoherence and cheesiness of it all. Some deleted scenes are also included with the Blu-Ray, but they wouldn't have hindered or helped this mess of a movie in any way. (eOne)