'Broken City' Review: Recycled Movie Tropes, Liberal Platitudes

'Broken City' Review: Recycled Movie Tropes, Liberal Platitudes

Watching Broken City on home video reminds us why some box office duds can still entertain on the small screen as well as Hollywood’s penchant for promoting liberal memes.

Broken City casts Mark Wahlberg as a disgraced cop hired by the mayor of New York (Russell Crowe) to see if the politician’s wife (Catherine Zeta Jones) is cheating on him. It’s a political thriller which cribs gleefully from classic movie tropes, including hard-drinking ex-officers and political wives who burn with rage at their spouses.

Director Allen Hughes (From Hell) keeps the storyline humming even while the familiar plot points whiz on by, and the cast is game enough to treat the recycled beats with relish.

Crowe commands a serviceable big city accent, while Wahlberg falls back on his flawed good guy routine without adding new shades to the portrait. Zeta Jones isn’t given much to do, but when she’s on screen she epitomizes the cold, calculating spouse who can’t quite quit her man.

The reasons why she can’t help shape a ruggedly watchable film, one which saves its ideological talking points for late in the game.

By the third act audiences will know which mayoral race candidate they must root on to victory. One not only carries a secret meant to endear him to us but speaks plainly about the need to shoulder our “fair share” of the economy. The candidate unabashedly echoes Obama administration talking points about taxing the rich to balance the books, and it’s mean to show both his decency and ability to solve problems.

If that weren’t enough, a subplot involving the privitization of an old neighborhood block is another tell as to where the bad guys lurk.

The Blu-ray edition’s extras include deleted scenes as well as a look at how Brian Tucker’s script made it from Hollywood’s so-called Black List of hot properties into the hands of so many recognizable stars.