Broken City movie review: Bad mayor

Jan 18, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. ET

What do you do when the mayor of New York City is bad to the bone? Mark Wahlberg goes head to head with Russell Crowe, collecting his secrets and exposing a giant scandal in this political thriller. The good news? Russell Crowe doesn’t sing.

Broken City

2 Stars: Perfect for Mark Wahlberg fans

New York Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe), runs the city on the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” model. Unfortunately, the citizens are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to a pricey housing development that may be detrimental to New York’s working class.

On the eve of re-election, Mayor Hostetler summons former NYPD cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg), who’s now a private investigator, barely eeking out a living. The mayor tells Billy he thinks his wife is having an affair and needs photographs. Billy agrees to take the job and gets started following the lovely Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Broken City

Meanwhile, Billy’s relationship with his live-in girlfriend Natalie Barrow (Natalie Martinez) is on the rocks. An actress, Natalie has just starred in her first independent film and takes Billy to see the premiere. Billy is rankled however, when he sees Natalie in a very graphic sex scene — he clearly wasn’t expecting this.

Soon though, Billy is consumed with following Mrs. Hostetler only to discover she may or may not be having an affair with the campaign manager of the mayor’s political rival, Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler). When Andrews is murdered, Billy suspects there’s more going on in Manhattan than just marital infidelity.


Wahlberg is excellent as the moody P.I. who’s not afraid to fight for justice, while Crowe makes the perfect slippery political figure who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else. Zeta-Jones plays the secretive Cathleen with class and wit, while keeping her vulnerable.

Bottom line:  Broken City is a gritty, competent political thriller with well-matched actors.

1 hour, 49 minutes. There are no extra scenes after the credits.

Photo credit: Fox