DHD Review: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe in Entertaining ‘Broken City’

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CHICAGO – This may be the first “DHD Review” on HollywoodChicago.com but it’s unlikely to be the last. Just this past weekend, the great William Friedkin spoke at the Chicago Critics Film Festival about how the future of film is not celluloid or even disc but streaming. And now you can watch Allen Hughes’ “Broken City” before it’s out on Blu-ray or DVD and you can do so anywhere you can access your iTunes account. Start at it home, continue it on the train to work, finish it in your office. Wherever, whenever, and however many times you want — this is the future of personal movie ownership and Fox is one of the studios leading the way in its development.

Of course, hundreds of pages have already been written about the digital download revolution and there are many more to write but the product will always be the key. In a theater, on a Blu-ray, or digitally downloaded — it’s the movie that matters. And how’s this movie? Surprisingly not bad. Working with a famous “black list” script that had been circulating Hollywood since just after the Writer’s Strike, Allen Hughes and Mark Wahlberg assembled a top-notch cast to make an old-fashioned film. With elements of ’70s crime dramas and even-older noir cinema, “Broken City” is a relatively tight thriller of political corruption and personal redemption. Its third act doesn’t match the crisp dialogue of the first hour as it gets a little ridiculous but the movie is worth a rental…or a download I guess.

Wahlberg plays Billy Taggart, a cop on the edge who has been personally caught up in a horrific, famous case. When he’s nearly sent to jail for killing the suspect, he’s kicked from the force. Seven years later, he’s working as a private detective (with the lovely Alona Tal as his assistant) when he gets the biggest case in the world — tail the wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) of the sitting Mayor (Russell Crowe) to see who she’s sleeping with. When it’s revealed that the other end of the love triangle is the campaign manager (Kyle Chandler) of the man (Barry Pepper) trying to beat the Mayor in the upcoming election, things get really shady.

The first hour of “Broken City” really crackles. This is much smarter than I expected to be (I was burned by last year’s 1Q Wahlberg movie, the awful “Contraband”) with solid performances all around, especially Crowe, Chandler, and the always-great Jeffrey Wright. “Broken City” is one of those movies that, sadly, gets less interesting as it becomes more about plot and less about character but this is a well-shot, entertaining slice of political noir. And now you can own it forever.

The most interesting thing to me about the DHD of “Broken City” is that companies are starting to embrace special features along with just the film. When you download “BC” on iTunes, you also get two featurettes about the making of the movie and a menu that looks identical to if you had popped a DVD in your laptop. It is odd to me that the DHD doesn’t include the “Alternate Ending” or “Five Deleted/Extended Scenes” that will come with the Blu-ray release. Why not give advance/DHD buyers all the bells and whistles? Perhaps it’s because then there really will be no distinction and DHD will put BD and DVD out of business forever.

Broken City will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 30, 2013
Broken City will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 30, 2013
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones star in this gripping crime thriller where everyone has a motive and no one can be trusted. Seven years after being forced to resign as a New York police officer, private detective Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) takes on his toughest case yet: following the wife (Zeta-Jones) of the city’s hard-nosed mayor (Crowe), who’s convinced she’s cheating on him. But by the time the mayor reveals his true intentions, Billy is already in too deep. Now, with his freedom — and quite possibly his life — on the line, Billy will risk it all in a desperate bid to expose the truth, and seek redemption in a city where second chances don’t come cheap.

Special Features:
o Alternate Ending
o Five Deleted / Extended Scenes
o Putting It All Together Documentary – A Behind-the-Scenes look including Cast Profiles, Anatomy of a Thriller, a “Black List” script and more
o Theatrical Trailer

“Broken City” stars Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alona Tal, Kyle Chandler, Barry Pepper, Natalie Martinez, and Jeffrey Wright. It is now available on DHD and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on April 30, 2013.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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