‘Broken City’ takes chances, succeeds

Movie Review

Borrowing a Shakespearean tragedy theme, Allen Hughes’ “Broken City” opens in ruthless, modern-day New York City. “Broken City” displays a story of ex-cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) and his inability to escape from his past. Shadowing tales of old, the tragic hero sets himself apart from his fellow man through the encounter of his grievous character flaw — his cynical belief in mankind creates the stimulus that begins his fall from grace and triggers his eventual demise.

“Broken City’s” formula creates an entertaining and thrilling film that keeps the audience guessing through its entirety. Big names such as Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones create a well-rounded, talented cast that makes the film well worth the watch. Accompanied with an impressive cast, cinematographer Ben Seresin takes Brian Tucker’s gripping original screenplay and adds spectacular camera movement to push the story to a superior level of cinema.

Wahlberg portrays the tragic hero role with poise and serenity and captures a broken man’s unsalvageable struggle against his past transgressions. Reinforcing Wahlberg’s superior performance, Russell Crowe flawlessly depicts Nicholas Hostetler as a corrupt New York City mayor. Crowe’s performance creates a natural opposition to Wahlberg’s Taggart. Ex-cop Taggart represents the common New Yorker with the city controlled by wealthy politician Mayor Hostetler. Hostetler stops at nothing to remain in power and Taggart makes foreboding sacrifices in his effort to see his self-styled, vigilante justice served. Heart-wrenching opposition between the antagonist (Crowe) and protagonist (Wahlberg) creates a riveting story that is sure to pique your interest.

Tucker illustrates writing dexterity in his breakthrough screenplay “Broken City.” Tucker voyages into the hearts of the American public with his subject choices and barred concepts of government conspiracy, larceny and adultery. He challenges the viewer to question authority and hold those accountable at fault for their lapse in morality. Tucker built the skeleton for Broken City, but Ben Serisin made the film aesthetically pleasing.

Serisin is known for his stereotypical, blockbuster cinematography in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” however, with careful treatment of the camera work in “Broken City,” Serisin projects his artistic aptitude with his personification of the camera. Throughout the film, the camera movement reflects the disposition of surrounding characters. The camera travels around and across without pushing in or pulling out, thus, invoking a feeling of cyclical nature. This style of camera motion generates unease and distrust of targeted characters. Serisin breaks away from mainstream Hollywood cinematography and takes a leap of faith into a unique style of filmmaking. He shows a willingness to venture into new ground to broaden his film genre.

Rising above prevalent acting names and superb cinematography, “Broken City” is a remarkable story filled with twist, turns and underlying themes of conspiracy, treachery and collusion. Not filmed in the cookie-cutter filmmaking style, Serisin’s “Broken City” deserves credit for stepping away from the shadowed unwillingness to be different and forges a seldom used cinematic concept that will prove to be widely accepted in coming years

James Ealum, a native of Albany, has studied to be a screenwriter at Full Sail University Film School, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and worked on three films. At Darton College, he majored in theater, where he acted, stage managed and performed lighting design. He plans to earn a master’s degree in creative writing.