Saturday, January 19, 2013

Broken City [2013]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (L)  Michael Philkips (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB review
Michael Phillips' review
AVClub's review

Broken City (directed by Allen Hughes, screenplay by Brian Tucker) is IMHO a very well written and well acted exploration of life/corruption and political life/corruption in a large contemporary American City.  Set in New York, it centers, above all, on two life long New Yorkers who could have been neighbors when they were young.  One, Billy Taggart (played by Mark Wahlberg) has lived his life pretty much on street level, the other Mayor Hostetler (played by Russell Crowe) has risen clearly to greater heights.  Yet a good part of the mayor's his political appeal seems to have been that he has remained comfortable at least speaking the language of the street.

As such, it's not really a surprise that when at the beginning of the film Billy Taggart then a NYPD officer is standing trial for effectively murdering a street thug (who had beaten the rap on a technicality for the brutal rape/murder of a 16 year old girl from his old neighborhood), he finds in Hostetler an ally.  Since a gun was found on the thug -- after Taggart had shot him dead -- Taggart himself gets acquitted.  But the circumstances of the shooting are such that the Police Commissioner, Carl Fairbanks (played by Jeffrey Wright) recommends Taggart's (quiet) dismissal from the force anyway.  But the mayor wants to get a look at Taggart before he goes.  So he invites him to his office, and in the presence of the Police Commissioner breaks Taggart the news:  "There are some wars you fight and some you walk away from.  This is the kind you walk away from ... but in my book, you're a hero."  As such, the Mayor does what needs to be done, but does so in a manner that Taggart himself must have felt that, despite being fired (by the Mayor) the Mayor actually "liked him" / "had his back."  Wow, that's smooth ... ;-)

So what does Billy Taggart do after being unceremoniously dumped from the force?  He becomes a private investigator, not a particularly financially successful one, and eventually shacks-up with the sister of the rape victim whose rape he had avenged (Apparently Taggart had known the rape victim's family from his youth.  As such, his flirtation with vigilantism was neither random nor driven by particularly high ideals.  He simply avenged the brutal rape and killing of a family friend).  His live-in girlfriend Natalie (played by Natalie Martinez) thus is also "of the old neighborhood" and while she, like the mayor, also has "higher aspirations" (seeing herself as a "struggling actress") as long as she remains "struggling" she doesn't mind hanging around a "struggling private investigator" like Taggart, who seems to end-up being beaten up as often as he is paid.  And this goes on for some years ...

Finally both Billy and Natalie get their big breaks at roughly the same time.  Natalie gets a "starring role" in an "Indie production," Billy gets a call from the Mayor ...  While it soon becomes rather clear what Natalie's willing to do to become a star ... Billy has a tougher time of it.  Billy's given the job by the mayor, involved in a hair-thin tight race for re-election, to follow the mayor's wife (played by Catherine Zeta Jones) who the mayor tells him he's convinced is cheating on him. ("New Yorkers will elect all kinds of people as mayor, but not someone who's own wife is cheating on him" he tells Taggart).  Taggart takes the job, especially when he's given his advance ($25K wow! he can pay his bills for once ... ;-)  But as Taggart begins to tail the mayor's wife, he enters into a looking glass world of corruption and intrigue far beyond that which he would have ever imagined from his previous "street level" perspective.  Much ensues ...

I liked this movie.  I liked the diversity of characters -- Black, White, Hispanic, new-rich, old-rich, working class, poor, even gang-banger, artsy, blue-collar, Harvard educated, night-school educated, gay, straight, everybody -- kinda like what you'd find in a big American city like New York today ;-).  And I thought that the film-makers did a great job weaving a tale out of a canvas as big as that.

Finally, reviewing this film from Chicago, I would say that the "conspiracy" that the film finally settles on is one that Chicagoans would certainly understand.  Cities across the country have struggled to find ways to "balance budgets" in recent years.  The approach proposed in this film is one that Chicagoans will know quite well. Great film!

<< NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here?  If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation.  To donate just CLICK HERE.  Thank you! :-) >>

No comments:

Post a Comment