Film review: Broken City

Director Allen Hughes is better at depicting street gangs than he is at showing the gang culture of higher levels of society. When he and his brother Albert directed the 1993 film Menace II Society, they were barely 20 years old. Starring the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Larenz Tate, Menace II Society has become a cult classic, and it is often called (along with Boyz n the Hood) the most authentic representation of gang culture with a majority African-American cast.

But times have changed, and while Hughes’ latest, Broken City, touches upon elements of gang violence, its focus is squarely on the dirty politics of an incumbent whose only goal is to be re-elected, no matter how corrupt he is. In fact, this corruption may just help him win re-election.

The mayor is Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe), and he is in the midst of a fierce battle for power with an upstart Harvard graduate from a rich family, Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper). Although very few people know Valliant, he is running a tight race with Hostetler. However, it seems Hostetler is more interested in his own wife’s dealings than he is in muddying Valliant, and he hires private investigator Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) to spy on her, since he is convinced she is cheating on him. Such infidelity, he says, would ruin his campaign, even though New Yorkers have elected “homos and blacks” in the past.

Read the full review at The Prague Post.

(Still of Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones in Broken City. Photo by Alan Markfield – © 2012 – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.)