Thursday, January 17, 2013

Broken Script

Broken City       Final Cut Score: 65%

There's a plethora of personal likes in play in Broken City. I largely enjoy the work of Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones and the Hughes Brothers – even if it's just half the pair here. And I especially like Atticus Ross, Trent Reznor's less-famous film scoring partner. With that lengthy list of likes all taking part in one project, how could things go so horribly wrong?

Place the blame on virginal screenwriter Brian Tucker, a guy I definitely don't like after being subjected to a tedious, needlessly convoluted clunker like this.

Wahlberg is ex-cop-turned-PI, Billy Taggart, who - seven years after he was forced to turn in his badge due to a questionable use of force - is summoned by NYC Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (a heavily spray-tanned Crowe) to trail his two-timing wife (Zeta-Jones). With his tenuous re-election bid just around the bend, the mayor wants to keep a lid on the news that his lovey dovey is in the sack with someone else, lest it hit the front page of New York's finest fishwraps.

Taggart shadows Mrs. Mayor, shockingly uncovering all is not as it seems. The mayor - assumedly no relation to former NY Giants QB Jeff Hostetler - has a substantial business interest in the city's sale of a group of high-rise slums to a shady land developer. Screw the cheating, that's the kind of ammo Hostetler really wants to keep hush-hush from his opponent, a Connecticut richie played by a Gordon Gekko-haired Barry Pepper.

Tucker's broken script is slow off the line and becomes increasingly - unnecessarily - complex as Broken City trudges on and on – and on. There's a slew of sideshows that have zero redeeming value. An aimless arc about Taggart's actress girlfriend's indie film serves as nothing but an opportunity for Wahlberg to riff on the perceived pretentiousness of non-Hollywood projects. And don't get me started on the oft-laughable dialogue.

As a fan of his previous efforts, including: From Hell and yes, The Book of Eli, director Allen Hughes is better than this. Heck, everyone involved is better than this. Yes, even Tucker – the only way from the sewer is up.