Broken City Combo Pack Review: Power Plays Everyone, Even the Corrupt

Written by Mike Bruno

A movie about a corrupt mayor and a not-so-good cop. Wow, that’s a first, and yes, I’m being a smart ass about it. The story has been told a million times in a million cities, but what makes this project different is that director Allen Hughes at least tried to keep the audience guessing as the plot thickened with every new scene. My problem with movies like this is I’m always trying to figure out what each scene means, what does it have to do with the overall plot, and how is this going to reconcile the ending—as in, how will the good guy prevail, which in regards to corruption cases usually isn’t a happy Hollywood ending just ask anyone in the projects.

We start out with NYPD detective Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) killing a guy, who you are made to think was a rapist. Taggart is charged with killing an innocent man but due to the inherent corruption dug deep within the system, the cop gets off, yet has to leave the force because evidence withheld will show this cop doing what most do: shoot first and make up your own answers.

Seven years later, when Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe), who helped this dirty cop get off, calls Taggart back to do a special job, the audience has to know there’s a set-up going on, and that this cop is going to be the fall guy.

Doing the Mayor’s biding, and being the private dick, this dumb cop tails the Mayor’s wife, Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones), only to find out too late that the guy her husband thinks she is having an affair with she isn’t, and that little twist plays into the plot well, but would have been even a heavier case if this would have happened just 10 years ago, yet it still works and lends a realness to the films story. Once Taggart figures he’s been had, he tries to undo what he did, but it’s a twisted knot he has to untie before the upcoming election.

With everything coming to a head, it looks like Taggart’s got the Mayor dead to rights, yet what happens in the beginning is relevant to the end, and the choice this ex-cop has to make is a sacrifice not too many people, epically cops, would want to make.

My issues were with the story, and not that writer Brian Tucker did a bad job or the storyline was poor because it flows pretty well at points. But as someone who picks through plotlines like Patton going over battle plans, I’m searching for the reasons behind each scene. I found myself asking what relevance this character had, or why this person is doing something they normally wouldn’t, yet these little quirks I have didn’t take away from the film as a whole, and as I sit here looking back I realize why certain parts had to happen, such as when Taggart goes back to visit the old neighborhood and can’t understand why his old friends won’t leave or not why he has a drinking problem. It’s obvious, but it never plays into the film—I mean he’s gets drunk at his girlfriend’s movie premiere, but that’s when it only becomes a problem. I guess it’s character building but it’s kind of irrelevant. Yet, it doesn’t take way from the film as a whole or add to it.

I respect and enjoyed all the actors. They all had good performances, and each was a perfect fit for the characters they portrayed. Mark Wahlberg, who I have maximum respect for, plays a great ex-cop, but I have to be honest, he looks like an ex-cop in most of his movies. He has that “hey man, don’t fuck with me right now, it’s not worth it for you” look on his face and the truth is I wouldn’t want to fuck with him so he fit right into the role. Russell Crowe, another person who always looks like someone just shit in his soup, is amazing in the fact that he plays the evil Mayor in more of a human light. Most times, when people play these roles of the super powerful and even more corrupt politicians, they go a little over the top, but not Crowe. He played his part with such smoothness it made his character likeable even though we were supposed to hate him.

The Combo Pack offers a Blu-ray, DVD, and an Ultraviolet digital copy. The Blu-ray is available in a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and the audio is English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The Blu-ray also offers six deleted scenes (HD, 9 min) and the making-of feature Putting It All Together (HD, 35 min).

I would recommend Broken City if you are a fan of either of these actors but wait until it hits the dollar bin at your local grocery store, usually down the frozen aisle.

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