Broken City (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Allen Hughes|
|Produced by||Randall Emmett
|Written by||Brian Tucker|
|Music by||Atticus Ross
|Edited by||Cindy Mollo|
1984 Private Defense Contractors
Black Bear Pictures
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||108 minutes|
Broken City is a 2013 American crime thriller film directed by Allen Hughes and written by Brian Tucker. Mark Wahlberg stars as a police officer turned private investigator and Russell Crowe as the mayor of New York City who hires the private detective to investigate his wife.
This is Hughes' first solo feature film directing effort; he has collaborated with his twin brother Albert previously. Allen in 2010 learned about Tucker's spec script, which had languished in development hell since Mandate Pictures attempted to produce a film in 2008. Under a partnership between Emmett/Furla Films and Regency Enterprises, Hughes began production in 2011 in New York City and Louisiana. The film was released in theaters on January 18, 2013.
NYPD detective Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is arrested for the murder of Mikey Tavarez, who raped and murdered sixteen-year-old Yesenia Barea but walked on a technicality. Chief Carl Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright), goes to Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) with a witness and evidence. Hostetler buries the evidence, and a judge clears Taggart as having shot Tavarez in self-defense. The mayor calls Taggart to his office for a private meeting and calls him "a hero," but Taggart is still forced to leave the police.
Seven years later, Taggart is living with his girlfriend, Natalie Barrow (Natalie Martinez), an aspiring actress. Taggart's private detective business is on the verge of bankruptcy when Hostetler hires him to investigate a romantic affair that his wife, Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones), is having. Helped by his assistant, Katy Bradshaw (Alona Tal), Taggart learns that Cathleen is seeing Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler), the campaign manager of Hostetler's rival in the upcoming elections, Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper).
At a fundraiser for Hostetler's campaign, Cathleen reveals to Taggart that she knows he has been following her, advising him not to trust her husband. Hostetler gets the envelope with the pictures Taggart has taken of Cathleen meeting with Andrews.
At a film debut party, Natalie reveals to others that her real name is Natalia Barea, and Yesenia was her sister. At the screening, Taggart is shocked at Natalie's sex scene, strongly disapproving of it, thinking that it would have been a scene of poetic love, not a porn-like scene. Combined with guilt over Hostetler, Taggart descends back into his former drinking bouts, arguing with Natalie both over the scene and about people she associates with during her work, so she breaks off the relationship.
Taggart proceeds to get drunk, brawling with strangers while walking the city streets. He receives a phone call from his assistant telling him Fairbanks wants his presence at a murder scene. When he arrives, it is revealed it is Andrews who has been found murdered.
Taggart admits to Fairbanks that he had been hired by Hostetler. They go see Valliant, who reveals that Andrews was meeting Todd Lancaster (James Ransone), son of Hostetler's wealthy benefactor, contractor Sam Lancaster (Griffin Dunne). A furious Cathleen explains to Taggart that Andrews was a close friend, not a lover, who had promised her information about Hostetler's plans for the Bolton Village Housing Project, a deal that would enrich Sam Lancaster and the mayor. Hostetler wanted to find out Cathleen's source, so he manipulated Taggart into working for him.
Taggart decides to investigate the Hostetler corruption. He goes to Sam Lancaster's construction business, and finds workers destroying loads of documents. Stealing some of the documents, he finds out Bolton Village has been sold in order to build high-rise office buildings, rather than a new housing development, leaving hundreds of impoverished people homeless for his own profit. After leaving Lancaster's, Taggart is pursued in a car chase by Hostetler's men, who run him off the road and steal the evidence back.
Taggart then visits Todd Lancaster, who says he intended to give Andrews a copy of the demolition contract as evidence against Hostetler on the night Andrews was murdered. He now gives it to Taggart instead. Taggart confronts Hostetler, who is unfazed because he has kept video evidence that Taggart murdered Tavarez in cold blood. Since there is no statute of limitations on murder, Taggart can still face prison time. However, Taggart records this conversation in which the Mayor also admits to his own corrupt dealings.
Willing to make the recording public, even though it contains reference to his murder of Tavarez, Taggart turns the recording over to Commissioner Fairbanks. While Hostetler is at his home celebrating a successful debate, Fairbanks comes to arrest him, in the process revealing it was he who was having an affair with Hostetler's wife. In the film's final scene, Taggart meets Fairbanks at a bar, where they toast Valliant. Katy comes in to say goodbye to Taggart, before he leaves the bar with Fairbanks.
- Mark Wahlberg as Billy Taggart
- Russell Crowe as Mayor Nicholas Hostetler
- Catherine Zeta-Jones as Cathleen Hostetler
- Jeffrey Wright as Carl Fairbanks
- Barry Pepper as Jack Valliant
- Alona Tal as Katy Bradshaw
- Natalie Martinez as Natalie Barrow
- Michael Beach as Tony Jansen
- Kyle Chandler as Paul Andrews
- James Ransone as Todd Lancaster
- Griffin Dunne as Sam Lancaster
- Justin Chambers as Ryan Blake
Broken City was directed by Allen Hughes and written by Brian Tucker. In May 2008, Mandate Pictures bought Tucker's spec script with the goal of attaching a director and a cast to film later in the year. In the following July, Mandate entered a deal with the production company Mr. Mudd to jointly produce one film per year, the first being Broken City. The companies aimed to hire the cast and crew by late 2008. Production did not commence as planned, and the script remained in development hell. It became part of the film industry's 2008 black list of "best, albeit unproduced, screenplays."
In June 2011, Emmett/Furla Films began development of Broken City with an anticipated budget of $60 million. Allen Hughes was attached to direct. By the following October, Regency Enterprises joined the project to co-finance with Emmett/Furla Films. Variety reported that Regency founder Arnon Milchan wanted to produce "edgier fare" like it previously did with the 1990s films Heat and L.A. Confidential. This would be Hughes' first feature film directing effort without his twin brother Albert. (Allen also directed the TV movie Knights of the South Bronx (2005) and a few episodes of the American version of the TV series Touching Evil.) Hughes said about working on his own, "The issue is learning that you're going to be in a room sometimes, and there's going to be eight guys assaulting you, creatively. Back in the day, when it was me and him, they could have had 15 people in the room, and they were all getting laid out." He met Tucker in 2010 at the Palm restaurant in West Hollywood, where he learned about the screenwriter's Broken City.
With a production budget of $35 million, shooting began in New York City in November 2011. Filming also took place in the Carrollton neighborhood of New Orleans and in other parts of Louisiana.
Broken City was released in 2,620 theaters in the United States and Canada on January 18, 2013. The film competed with fellow openers Mama and The Last Stand as well as Silver Linings Playbook in its widening release. The Los Angeles Times said the film drew "the most interest from older audiences". Prior to Broken City's release, Variety reported that the film was estimated to have "a low to mid-teens opening" weekend. It grossed $8.3 million on Friday through Sunday, ranking fifth. It grossed $9.5 million through the holiday (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) on Monday.
Broken City grossed $19,701,164 in the United States and Canada.
The film received negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 29% based on reviews from 143 critics with an average rating of 4.7 out of 10. The site's consensus is: "Broken City's thinly sketched, formulaic script offers meager rewards for all but the least demanding noir aficionados." Metacritic gives the film a score of 49% based on reviews from 38 critics; it identified 10 reviews as positive, 24 as mixed, and 4 as negative. According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a "B" grade.
Emily Helwig writing for The Hollywood Reporter said that critics "have been less than thrilled" with Broken City. "While many praise the talented cast and others enjoyed the cinematography, some critics add that Brian Tucker's screenplay might have been the problem and that it may have been a better story told as a period piece." Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune praises the cinematography of Ben Seresin, describing it as having an "autumnal glow" but criticizes the "coincidence and improbability" of the script, which lets down the able cast. Richard Roeper gives it 3 out of 4 stars, criticizing the script but saying "It's pretty trashy and sometimes stupid. But there was never a moment when I wasn't entertained on one level or another."
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