Broken City (film)

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Broken City
Broken City Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Allen Hughes
Produced by Randall Emmett
Mark Wahlberg
Stephen Levinson
Arnon Milchan
Teddy Schwarzman
Allen Hughes
Remington Chase
Brandt Andersen
Written by Brian Tucker
Starring Mark Wahlberg
Russell Crowe
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Jeffrey Wright
Barry Pepper
Music by Atticus Ross
Claudia Sarne
Leo Ross
Cinematography Ben Seresin
Edited by Cindy Mollo
Regency Enterprises
Emmett/Furla Films
Inferno Distribution
1984 Private Defense Contractors
Black Bear Pictures
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • January 18, 2013 (2013-01-18)
Running time
108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million[1]
Box office $19.7 million[2]

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. In 2010 Hughes 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.

The film was a significant box office bomb, earning just over $19 million at the box office and failing to recoup its $35 million production budget, which is equivalent to just a 54% net return.[3]


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 find out that Valliant was in Andrews apartment and the two were lovers. 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.



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.[4] 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.[5] 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."[6]

In June 2011, Emmett/Furla Films began development of Broken City with an anticipated budget of $60 million. Allen Hughes was attached to direct.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]) 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.[6]

With a production budget of $35 million,[10] shooting began in New York City in November 2011.[11] Filming also took place in the Carrollton neighborhood of New Orleans and in other parts of Louisiana.[12]


Broken City was released in 2,620 theaters in the United States and Canada on January 18, 2013.[13] The film competed with fellow openers Mama and The Last Stand as well as Silver Linings Playbook in its widening release.[14] The Los Angeles Times said the film drew "the most interest from older audiences".[10] Prior to Broken City '​s release, Variety reported that the film was estimated to have "a low to mid-teens opening" weekend.[14] 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.[15]

Broken City grossed $19,701,164 in the United States and Canada.[1]

Home media[edit]

Broken City was released on DVD[16] and Blu-ray on April 30, 2013.[17]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 29%, based on 143 reviews, with an average rating of 4.7/10. The site's consensus reads, "Broken City's thinly sketched, formulaic script offers meager rewards for all but the least demanding noir aficionados."[18] Metacritic gives the film a score of 49 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[19]

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."[20] 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.[20][21] Richard Roeper gave 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."[22]


  1. ^ a b "Broken City (2013)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Dorothy Pomerantz (November 25, 2013). "2013's Biggest Turkeys: The Films That Flopped". Forbes. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ Siegel, Tatiana; McNary, Dave (May 19, 2008). "Mandate acquires 'Broken City'". Variety. 
  5. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (July 14, 2008). "Malkovich, Mandate to make movies". Variety. 
  6. ^ a b Ito, Robert (January 12, 2013). "Recalibrating a Directing Brotherhood". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike (June 27, 2011). "Mark Wahlberg, Allen Hughes Plot Trip To 'Broken City'". Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  8. ^ Abrams, Rachel (October 7, 2011). "New Regency moves into 'Broken City'". Variety. 
  9. ^ Vartanian, Hrag (2005-04-01). "Albert Hughes Forges His Own Art". Armenian General Benevolent Union. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  10. ^ a b Fritz, Ben (January 17, 2013). "Horror movie 'Mama' to top new Schwarzenegger, Wahlberg films". Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ "Broken City Filming in New York". On the set of New 2011-11-05. Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  12. ^ "Louisiana Film & Television: Projects: Broken City". Retrieved December 7, 2011. 
  13. ^ Subers, Ray (January 17, 2013). "Forecast: Jessica Poised to Beat Arnold, Mark This Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 18, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Stewart, Andrew (January 16, 2013). "Quartet vie for B.O. win". Variety. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. 
  15. ^ Subers, Ray (January 21, 2013). "Weekend Report: 'Mama' Haunts First Place Over MLK Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Broken City DVD release". March 7, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Broken City Blu-ray and DVD release". March 7, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Broken City". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Broken City Reviews". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Helwig, Emily (January 17, 2013). "'Broken City': What the Critics Are Saying". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  21. ^ "The purr of power in 'Broken City' &#9733&#9733 1/2". Chicago Tribune. January 17, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Broken City Movie Review & Film Summary (2013)". Chicago Sun-Times. January 16, 2013. 

External links[edit]