Broken City

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Broken City
Broken City Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAllen Hughes
Produced byRandall Emmett
Mark Wahlberg
Stephen Levinson
Arnon Milchan
Teddy Schwarzman
Allen Hughes
Remington Chase
Brandt Andersen
Written byBrian Tucker
StarringMark Wahlberg
Russell Crowe
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Jeffrey Wright
Barry Pepper
Music byAtticus Ross
Claudia Sarne
Leopold Ross
CinematographyBen Seresin
Edited byCindy Mollo
Regency Enterprises
Emmett/Furla Films
Inferno Distribution
Black Bear Pictures
New Regency
Closest to the Hole Productions
Leverage Entertainment
Allen Hughes Productions
1984 Private Defense Contractors
Envision Entertainment
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • January 18, 2013 (2013-01-18)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$35 million[1]
Box office$34.5 million[2]

Broken City is a 2013 American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Allen Hughes and written by Brian Tucker.[3] 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; in previous productions he collaborated with his twin brother Albert. 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's box office returns fell short of expectations, earning just over $34 million in ticket sales and failing to recoup its $35 million production budget.[4]


NYPD police officer Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is arrested for the murder of Mikey Tavarez, who was believed to have raped and murdered 16-year-old Yesenia Barea but "walked" on a technicality. Chief Carl Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright) goes to Mayor of New York City Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) with a witness and evidence incriminating Taggart, but Hostetler buries the evidence. A judge clears Taggart as having shot Tavarez in self-defense. In a private meeting with Taggart, the mayor calls him "a hero", but still forces him to leave the police department.

Seven years later, Taggart is living with his girlfriend Natalie Barrow (Natalie Martinez), an aspiring actress. His private detective business is on the verge of bankruptcy when Mayor Hostetler hires him to investigate his wife, Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whom he suspects is having an affair. With his assistant Katy Bradshaw (Alona Tal), Taggart learns that Cathleen is visiting Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler), campaign manager of Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper), Hostetler's rival in the upcoming elections,

At a fundraiser for Hostetler's campaign, Cathleen reveals to Taggart that she knows he has been following her and advises him not to trust her husband. Taggart gives the mayor photos of Cathleen meeting with Andrews.

At the debut screening of Natalie’s film, she reveals that her real name is Natalia Barea and that Yesenia was her sister. Taggart is shocked at Natalie's sex scene and strongly disapproves. Consumed with guilt over working for Hostetler, Taggart drinks regularly, and argues with Natalie, and she breaks off the relationship.

Taggart gets drunk, brawling with strangers in the street. He receives a phone call from Katy and rushes to a crime scene to learn that Andrews has been found murdered.

Taggart tells Chief Fairbanks of his work for the mayor. They learn that Valliant was in Andrews' apartment. Valliant reveals that Andrews was scheduled to meet Todd Lancaster (James Ransone), the son of Hostetler's wealthy benefactor, contractor Sam Lancaster (Griffin Dunne).

A furious Cathleen tells Taggart that Andrews was a close friend, not her lover, and had promised her information about Hostetler's plans for the Bolton Village Housing Project, expected to enrich both Sam Lancaster and the mayor. Hostetler wanted to discover Cathleen's source, so he manipulated Taggart into tracking her.

Taggart decides to investigate Mayor Hostetler for corruption. He goes to Lancaster's construction business and finds workers destroying documents. Stealing some, he discovers that Bolton Village has been sold to build high-rise office buildings, rather than a new housing development, leaving hundreds homeless while Hostetler and Lancaster profit. Taggart is pursued in a car chase by Hostetler's men, who run him off the road and take back the documents.

Taggart visits Todd Lancaster, who says he had intended to give Andrews a copy of the demolition contract as evidence against Hostetler on the night Andrews was murdered, and gives Taggart the contract. Taggart confronts Mayor Hostetler, who is unfazed, and reveals a video showing Taggart murdering Tavarez in cold blood. Taggart records their conversation of the mayor admitting to his own corrupt dealings.

Despite the risk of further prosecution for Taverez’s murder, Taggart turns the recording over to Fairbanks. While Hostetler is at home celebrating a successful debate, Fairbanks arrives to arrest him, and tells the mayor that he was having an affair with Cathleen. In the film's final scene, Taggart meets Fairbanks at a bar, and they toast to Valliant, who has won the election. Katy comes in to say goodbye before the two men leave the bar.



Broken City was directed by Allen Hughes and written by Brian Tucker. In May 2008, Mandate Pictures bought Tucker's unsolicited screenplay intending to hire a director and cast to film later in the year.[5] 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.[6] Production did not commence as planned, and the project remained in an incomplete state of development. It became part of the film industry's 2008 black list of "best, albeit unproduced, screenplays."[7]

In June 2011, Emmett/Furla Films began development of Broken City with an anticipated budget of $60 million. Allen Hughes was attached to direct.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]) 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.[7]

With a production budget of $35 million,[11] shooting began in New York City in November 2011.[12] Filming also took place in the Carrollton neighborhood of New Orleans and in other parts of Louisiana.[13]


Broken City was released in 2,620 theaters in the United States and Canada on January 18, 2013.[14] The film competed with fellow openers Mama and The Last Stand, as well as Silver Linings Playbook in its widening release.[15] The Los Angeles Times said the film drew "the most interest from older audiences".[11]

Prior to Broken City's release, Variety reported that the film was estimated to have "a low to mid-teens opening" weekend.[15] 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.[16] Broken City grossed $19,701,164 in the United States and Canada.[1]

Home media[edit]

Broken City was released on DVD[17] and Blu-ray on April 30, 2013.[18]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 29%, based on 150 reviews, with an average rating of 4.66/10. The site's consensus reads, "Broken City's thinly sketched, formulaic script offers meager rewards for all but the least demanding noir aficionados."[19] Metacritic gives the film a score of 49 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[20]

Emily Helwig wrote for The Hollywood Reporter, 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."[21] 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.[21][22] 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."[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Broken City (2013)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
  2. ^ "Broken City (2013) - The Numbers".
  3. ^ "'Broken City,' Broken Movie: An Undernourished Noir". NPR. 17 January 2013. Archived from the original on 2016-01-17.
  4. ^ Dorothy Pomerantz (November 25, 2013). "2013's Biggest Turkeys: The Films That Flopped". Forbes. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
  5. ^ Siegel, Tatiana; McNary, Dave (May 19, 2008). "Mandate acquires 'Broken City'". Variety.
  6. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (July 14, 2008). "Malkovich, Mandate to make movies". Variety.
  7. ^ a b Ito, Robert (January 12, 2013). "Recalibrating a Directing Brotherhood". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Fleming, Mike (June 27, 2011). "Mark Wahlberg, Allen Hughes Plot Trip To 'Broken City'". Deadline. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  9. ^ Abrams, Rachel (October 7, 2011). "New Regency moves into 'Broken City'". Variety.
  10. ^ Vartanian, Hrag (2005-04-01). "Albert Hughes Forges His Own Art". Armenian General Benevolent Union. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
  11. ^ a b Fritz, Ben (January 17, 2013). "Horror movie 'Mama' to top new Schwarzenegger, Wahlberg films". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ "Broken City Filming in New York". 2011-11-05. Archived from the original on 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  13. ^ "Projects=". Louisiana Film & Television: Projects: Broken City. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  14. ^ Subers, Ray (January 17, 2013). "Forecast: Jessica Poised to Beat Arnold, Mark This Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  15. ^ a b Stewart, Andrew (January 16, 2013). "Quartet vie for B.O. win". Variety. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013.
  16. ^ Subers, Ray (January 21, 2013). "Weekend Report: 'Mama' Haunts First Place Over MLK Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  17. ^ "Broken City DVD release". March 7, 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2013-03-06.
  18. ^ "Broken City Blu-ray and DVD release". March 7, 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-04-25. Retrieved 2013-03-06.
  19. ^ "Broken City (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  20. ^ "Broken City Reviews". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  21. ^ a b Helwig, Emily (January 17, 2013). "'Broken City': What the Critics Are Saying". The Hollywood Reporter.
  22. ^ "The purr of power in 'Broken City' &#9733&#9733 1/2". Chicago Tribune. January 17, 2013.
  23. ^ "Broken City Movie Review & Film Summary (2013)". Chicago Sun-Times. January 16, 2013.

External links[edit]