I don’t know much about screenwriter Brian Tucker, but after viewing his debut feature “Broken City,” I can infer that he has obviously seen a lot of noir films. The movie is an accumulation of genre clich?©s pieced together in a haphazard, head-scratching fashion. From the convoluted cover-ups to the over-the-top villainous politician to the down-on-his-luck, good-hearted private detective who unwillingly becomes entwined in scandal but vows to make things right. Although “Broken City” possesses all the usual elements of a murder mystery it lacks the common sense of a believable story.
Simply put, the movie’s plot is so confusing it’s difficult to synopsize. Billy Taggart was once a cop who murdered the rapist of his girlfriend’s sister. However, Taggart never goes to trial because Mayor Nicholas Hostetler covers up key evidence against him – still with me? Years later, Hostetler hires Taggart (now a private investigator) to find out with whom his wife is having an affair, and Taggart discovers that she is meeting with Paul Andrews, the campaign manager of Hostetler’s opponent in the upcoming election. Taggart tells Hostetler, and realizes he’s made a terrible mistake once Andrews is found dead. It turns out Andrews and the mayor’s wife weren’t having an affair – they were working together to uncover evidence of a corrupt plot that could bring down the mayor.
Believe it or not, the movie gets more mind-boggling as Taggart unravels his scheme to bring the mayor to justice. No, the film is certainly not dull, but it’s so unnecessarily complex that one practically needs a doctorate in convoluted storylines to fully comprehend it. The worst part of the film is the characters’ completely unrealistic actions. For instance, Taggart dumps the actress girlfriend he kills for after seeing her in a love scene and assuming she must be cheating on him. He then starts drinking again, but shows no ill effects of being an off-the-wagon alcoholic for the rest of the movie. Additionally, I still don’t know why Hostetler involved Taggart in the first place when he could have just had his hitman follow his wife.
Among the chaos of the plot line, Mark Wahlberg shines in yet another performance as a tough, blue-collar character. Russell Crowe is also compelling as the devious Hostetler. But their performances are not enough to salvage this film. “Broken City” is not completely awful, but it’s not that great either.
The Setonian gives this movie 4 out of 5 stars.
Sean Quinn can be reached at email@example.com.