'Broken City' flawed, but engaging

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:41 PM ET

Broken City is a crime thriller with political subplots and a nice noir flavour.

Mark Wahlberg stars as Billy Taggart, an ex-cop turned private detective.

His police career ends after a potential vigilante incident involving an accused rapist.

Billy's working life now consists of following errant spouses and taking photos of them in flagrante delicto; it's a big step down, but he's good at his job. Soon enough, he gets a new client in the mayor of New York (Russell Crowe). Billy and Mayor Hostetler have a bit of a history from the days when Billy was still a policeman.

At any rate, the assignment is easy enough: find out if the mayor's wife is cheating on him, and with whom. The wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and the mayor obviously have no great affection for each other, so our private eye's work seems simple.

It isn't.

Billy quickly discovers that he's been lured into a bigger and far more complicated situation than he signed on for. Mayor Hostetler is running for re-election and has some real competition for the first time ever, so there's political skullduggery to deal with, not to mention real estate scandals, old homicides, secrets and lies and payback.

The story is complicated, but not for reasons that make much sense.

What counts here are the performances. Wahlberg's tarnished angel and Crowe's seamy politician are standouts, but everyone delivers. And it doesn't hurt to have a cast that includes Barry Pepper, Jeffrey Wright and Kyle Chandler.

Broken City is overplotted and burdened with red herrings that go nowhere, but it's still an engaging, dark little thriller that's fun to watch.

Just don't be surprised if you forget about it the minute you leave the theatre.


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