Catherine Zeta-Jones and Russell Crowe look like they're having a ball as a powerful New York married couple at war with each other in this somewhat old-fashioned crime thriller.

This is director Allen Hughes' first solo effort, having previously co-directed with brother Albert films including The Book of Eli and Menace II Society, and he's delivered a slick-looking effort.

The story begins with cop Billy Taggart (Walhberg) standing trial for killing an unarmed African-American. With the Mayor's intervention, Billy is found not guilty. Seven years later we find Billy working as a private eye when he receives a call from Mayor Hostetler, played with all the smarmy charm Crowe can muster, who hires Billy to follow his wife Cathleen (Zeta-Jones), who he believes is having an affair.

What Billy uncovers, though, is something much more sinister - a plot that involves dodgy election campaigns and municipal corruption on a grand scale.


Young television actress Alona Tal is in prestigious acting company but, as Billy's assistant Katy, she gives the most genuine and enjoyable performance of the bunch, in what hopefully marks a permanent move into movies. Overall though, the A-list talent are let down by a lack of originality and uneven pacing.

The story starts and ends with some enthusiasm, but the middle drags and the film feels longer than its 109 minutes' running time.

The initial tease that the world of politics, business and the Hostetler marriage is not as it seems is never really delivered, with the plot unfolding as you'd expect and without the tension and suspense required to keep you on your toes.

Though Hughes' city may be broken, it looks great, thanks to the film noir-inspired cinematography by Ben Seresin. The wealthy and powerful world of the Hostetlers is as glossy as Billy's blue-collar world is gritty.

Broken City may not be the most original film, but it's a good-looking and lightly entertaining one.

Stars: 2.5/5
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Director: Allen Hughes
Running time: 109 mins
Rating: R16 (violence and offensive language)
Verdict: Good-looking but predictable thriller

- TimeOut