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Parents' Guide to

Broken City

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Political thriller mixes violence, language, drinking, sex.

Movie R 2013 109 minutes
Broken City Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

Broken City (2013) Review by Shivom Oza - Wahlberg's Moment Of Reckoning

New York City finds itself in a pitiable state, as incumbent Mayor Nicholas Hostetler double-crosses and frames an ex-cop-turned-private-detective Billy Taggart, in order to regain his position in the upcoming elections. With the superlative performances by the cast (including stalwarts such as Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones), a powerful, albeit meandering, screenplay, enchanting background music and a fairly engaging plot, 'Broken City' has all the makings of the perfect weekend entertainer. Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is a former-cop-turned-private-eye. New York City mayoral elections are underway, and the cunning incumbent Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) is willing to do anything to keep his position by beating his rival Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper). According to Nicholas, the people of New York City will elect anybody as the Mayor, but a man who has been cheated on by his partner. He suspects his wife, Cathleen Hostetler, of having an affair with somebody. He hires Billy to take photographs of his wife's partner. Billy's got his own back-story. Seven years ago (before present day in the movie), he had shot dead Mikey Tavarez (Luis Tolentino), a man who raped and killed his girlfriend Natalie Barrow's (Natalie Martinez) younger sister. Now, while Billy gets away from being imprisoned, owing to the intervention of Nicholas, he has to return the favour. Nicholas makes it obligatory for Billy to say yes to his errand, for which he was willing to pay $50,000. Now, there are several twists and turns in the film, most of them being immensely fascinating. It would really spoil your experience if they are revealed. Let's just say that Billy is in for multiple rude shocks, while he goes about this easy-looking task. The story is meandering, but at no point, are you flummoxed to the point of being disinterested. The film manages to engage you throughout its duration. The lovely background score forms a wonderful foil to the thrilling visuals. The dramatic scenes between Billy and Nicholas, Billy and his girlfriend Natalie, and, in particular, the election debate, are excellently played out. The performances by the cast, Russell, Wahlberg and Catherine, are beyond brilliant. Wahlberg, who can be safely termed as the lone protagonist, gives an effortless performance. A bit more humour in his character would have worked perfectly, though. Russell Crowe is brilliant as the conniving mayor and so is Catherine Zeta-Jones, in a short, yet significant role. The supporting cast does a wonderful job as well. The few drawbacks in the film are as follows; unnecessary back-story and not enough reasoning given for the twists. Yes, you could take as many leaps of faith as you wish to, but those looking for a flawless plot will be left a tad disappointed. For a debut feature film, director Allan Hughes has done a marvellous job. The best part about the film was that it has no black-and-white. All characters have shades of grey, and come with their own infirmities. That helps a lot in making the story believable. This film mixes the following genres, Drama, Action and Thriller, perfectly. Don't miss it! Shivom Oza

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (3 ):

In another movie, with a better script, the combination of Wahlberg, Crowe, Wright, and Pepper might have signaled an Oscar-nominated ensemble. Add in Friday Night Lights star Kyle Chandler as a political do-gooder trying to get his candidate elected to office in a clean campaign, and you'd think BROKEN CITY could offer the kind of delicately balanced depth and action as a Ridley Scott thriller. But instead, director Allen Hughes (working for the first time without his brother/filmmaking partner Albert) and first-time screenwriter Brian Tucker take what begins as a compelling plot device and drop the ball in the third act.

Broken City starts off promising: Taggart didn't kill out of racist spite; he was bringing a rape-and-murder victim's family justice. He's the first in a series of "gray," roguish characters who aren't exactly as they seem (usually they're worse, but in Taggart's case, he's actually a pretty decent guy). Given today's charged economic climate, it's ridiculously easy to figure out the movie's one-percenter villains and to decipher exactly why the Giuliani-eque mayor involved Taggart in his schemes. If only the writing was worthy of such an esteemed (and impressively diverse) cast.

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