Broken City feels more like a broken film. Crime thrillers involving the corruption of policing forces and powerful politicians tend to imitate the aesthetics of a noir classic. Sometimes it works, like with the case of 'LA Confidential', and other times it misfires completely. Broken City crumbles into the latter. A private investigator is hired by the mayor of New York City to spy on his wife who he believes to be cheating on him. It soon spirals into a game of revenge, justice and deceit.
Director Hughes harnesses the gritty streets of its famous city in order to convey societal issues that plague the economy. Tax increase, residential crashes and the solidification of a safer neighbourhood. Unfortunately what takes precedent in this story is a dull, predictable and clichéd investigation that is weighed down by a monotonous script that lacks any personality. When the most exciting moment is a five minute mayoral debate about taxation, something is clearly incorrect. Don't get me wrong, it's a functional plot that blurs the line between revenge and justice. However Hughes' mediocre execution resulted in an almost instantly forgettable crime thriller that is absent of any thrills.
Given the talented cast, I was expecting more. Wahlberg and Crowe were fine, but when Chandler, Zeta-Jones, Wright and Pepper are all underused, it becomes a bland investigation. Wahlberg's central character has no bite and has a questionable amount of intelligence. When hired by a powerful man who instantly comes across as sinister to spy on his wife (who in fact coincidentally warned him beforehand), you'd think that maybe handing him evidence would be a bad idea? Apparently not. It concludes in good old-fashioned blackmail and whatever the decision, it doesn't matter. You're already bored out of your mind. Were this set in the 40s, then maybe this could've been more effective. Alas, the inherent commentary on today's society made this flick seem absurdly self-important. And that's the least of this film's problems, all of which cannot be mended.