Getting it Fixed:
I’m not really sure where to put this review. The movie is a couple of months old so it’s going into the (roughly) current releases; but it could just as easily go into the ‘Guilty Pleasures’ box. You see, I absolutely love this and as far as I can make out that puts me in a minority of one. I’m going to have to put it down to my unashamed weakness for B- and even C-movies. Hell, I’ll take a really good Z-list movie…they’re out there and they can be bloody enjoyable.
Well, Broken City is very enjoyable. You will recognise all the elements in it from a mile away but if you can roll with that it is just ridiculously entertaining. I’ve finally gotten used to the Mark Wahlberg style of acting which seems to consist of two expressions: 1) puzzled and pissed-off; and 2) puzzled and extremely pissed off. I always like Russell Crowe, even when he’s bad. Actually he’s good here but you may find it hard to remove your disbelieving eyes from his hairstyle, which is seriously dodgy to put it mildly. I wouldn’t be too trusting of politicians in general but if one knocked on the door with this on top of his head that door would be getting slammed even faster than normal.
Did I mention that Russell—or rather his character Nicholas Hostetler– is Mayor of New York City? Well, he is; and he is as untrustworthy and insanely ambitious as you expect that breed to be. Puzzled Wahlberg is a private eye going by the wonderful name of Billy Taggart—and of course as played by Mark he could be a relative of that equally grumpy Glasgow cop of some television years back. Taggart (the New York one) is a former policeman who had to leave the force after being acquitted of the controversial shooting of a suspect several years previously. In a wonderfully sleazy line uttered by Mayor Hostetler he was told:
“Evidence has come to light that, if it should come out, we would be fucked; and it is a necessity that we remain unfucked.”
If that doesn’t sound like a typical politician I don’t know what does. Now, seven years afterwards it seems that the Mayor is throwing a bone to perpetually angry Taggart in the shape of a $50,000 payday if he will find out who his wife is committing adultery with. He is not even crediting that his wife may be innocent or, as he would undoubtedly put it, in an unfucked state. As it turns out he might know whereof he speaks. It just may not be in the manner in which he suspects. Anyway, he’s not all that bothered—even though it is Catherine Zeta-Jones that is under suspicion and you would think that would make him just a bit jealous—except that it is an election year. In these wonderful kind of movies it is always an election year. Taggart for some odd reason starts looking both baffled and really puzzled. He is obviously wondering why a gorgeous woman like Mrs. Mayor Hostetler would even dream of straying from a slimy creep who has no interest in her.
So the Mayor explains:
“New Yorkers: they’ve elected drunks, crooks, Italians, homos, Jews and blacks to that seat; but what they will not elect is some guy whose wife is fucking some other guy behind his back.”
Gosh, that fella swears a lot; and he’s not exactly politically correct either. Although he does seem to be able to give our crooked Irish politicians a fair old run for their money.
Well, Taggart doesn’t look exactly overjoyed at this job, although in fairness it’s hard to tell. But in the time-honoured tradition of movie Private Eyes, no matter what the decade, he is more on his ass for money than I am. And so, finally, a smile breaks across those grim contours and off he walks into a world of pain.
There are all manner of sub-plots, a few of which don’t make much sense. There is also one that makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever. This involves Taggart’s actress girlfriend (who doesn’t seem to like him very much) and a movie sex scene that drives him back on the gargle. Yes, like all good movie Private Eyes there is a drinking problem. Which reminds me: I really would love to get his recipe for sobering up just like that! One minute this guy is lowering large whiskeys and the next he as straight as they come and interrogating some poor sap. Although he does seem to be puzzled and wondering why he’s doing it.
Actually writing about this movie makes me see how mad some of it is. The weird thing is that it also makes me want to see it again. But then I really believe that politicians are that corrupt so I’m happy out. How could you not enjoy the Mayor telling New Yorkers how much they have to thank him for making it safe to walk anywhere, morning, noon or night? Even with that thrown in it didn’t seem to cut any ice with the real-life NY authorities as most of it is filmed in…Eh, New Orleans. I’m still thinking about that one.
The supporting cast are solid, from Kyle Chandler as a campaign manager to Barry Pepper, who is an incredibly honest city councillor ( I wasn’t buying that one at all) going by the delicious name of Jack Valliant. I’m serious.
There is also a really lovely performance by a lady called Alona Tal, who is Taggart’s secretary.
The screenplay is by Brian Tucker and it is directed by Allen Hughes who is one half of the brothers who made that other movie that only I liked, From Hell. Yes, I’m going to not only recommend this but watch it again. First, though, I’m posting this in case that makes me change my mind. There. I now live with the consequences. As Mayor Hostetler would put it, either I’m fucked or unfucked.