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Broken City Review

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They should have called it Broken Story.

They had all of the right pieces, too, or enough of them to make it work, if they had really wanted to, they could have made a classic, instead of a throwaway, a mashup, cashing in on the bored January crowd at the movies.

“Kid this ain’t your night …”

They took a dive for the short money.  In a year or two nobody will remember this movie was even made.  It won’t have its own Quizzo question.  It won’t even be a bad guess to a Quizzo question.

Just another one of those entries on somebody’s filmography that makes you stop, and say, “What was that?”  “Oh“ “No wonder I never heard of it.”

It didn’t have to be like this.

Russell Crowe was so perfectly cast as the New York Irish reincarnation of Huey Long, you’d think they’d run him for real, maybe someplace more obviously corrupt.  Chicago.   He’s trimmed down, too, back to looking like a tough guy.  Maybe not a Kung Fu fighter, or someone you’d have ziplining out of a helicopter with a Squad Automatic Weapon, but tough.  Like a cop who still beats the crap out of the occasional pimp, just to keep his hands from getting soft.  Not like somebody who spent the last ten years getting up two hours early to make the donuts.

Mark Wahlberg did his thing. He is no longer part of the Funky Bunch.  He is now the guy you go to when you need somebody to look really pissed off and throw a crackhead through a plate glass window.  (Actually, he always was that guy, it just didn’t get filmed as often in his Funky Bunch and pre-Funky Bunch days.  If the world had only had smart phones and YouTube back then…). But I digress.

Someone knows something, he’s too drunk or too scared or too stupid to talk.  Get Wahlberg.  He’ll water-board the fucker, he doesn’t care.

Some street-slap lowlife raped and murdered your sister, you need him gunned down. Mr. Wahlberg will make that happen.  Con mucho gusto.

They need to do a literate, full production remake of Death Wish and give it to this guy.

But Wahlberg and Crowe couldn’t save the movie.

Nor could Catherine Zeta Jones, though she has definitely hit a personal milestone here in her career transition from unlikeable love interest to indignant sociopath.  To those who say such people can’t really be indignant, I give them this performance: if even a sociopath, or a sociopathic bitch, to be more precise, ever really burned with the indignant zeal of the righteous, it was Catherine Zeta Jones in this movie.

And the Dialogue; the Dialogue needs to have a movie of its own, one that has nothing to do with this story.  We should start a Kickstarter campaign to have Tom Cruise reprise his character from Rock of Ages, and give him some of the Dialogue, in something otherwise written, produced and directed by people who had nothing to do with either film.  Let’s give Stacee Jaxx and the Dialogue a place of their own, somewhere they belong.

Sharp, smart, even subversive, in its way, which is the only way that works, cutting against expectations. Neither Crowe nor Wahlberg would react to the currently fashionable agenda with anything but contempt.  So that’s how they react.

The type of dialogue that people think of when they say a movie was well written. Not Double Indemnity, or The Departed, of course, but good enough, the type of writing the typical screenwriter can’t do, because he doesn’t have the talent, or won’t do, because he’s too prissy or doesn’t want to risk landing on some Hollywood queen’s Do Not Hire list.

But that couldn’t save it either.

Nor could the cinematography, or the music.  The atmosphere was close enough to what they needed.  I mean, I would have preferred more grime, razor wire, burned out cars on blocks, with everything tagged but the winos and the broken glass… hell, tag the winos too… but that’s me.  I’ve always thought of New York like that.  (I don’t think of New York as having, say, mime gangs. But if you’re going to do All his Honor’s Men, you should at least work in some rats, with the menacing music and the hired guns, maybe have them gnawing on a junkie. Local color.)

No, all of that was fine. Not Taxi Driver, but good enough. Every movie can’t be Taxi Driver.

But it made no sense.

And not in the way a David Lynch movie makes no sense, because it’s trying to say something about the incomprehensibility of life in the world.

No, it was just stupid.  Muddled, bad, lazy writing.  Nobody thought it through, they never asked the hard questions:

Would an actual person do that?

Anybody could look this up in under a minute online for free… Why would somebody kill to keep it quiet?  It’s not quiet now! Isn’t that like killing someone to keep him from showing the world the deed to your condo?

I have no memory whatsoever of writing any of this, nobody does, maybe somebody should read it, once, before we throw it over the wall and go do that thing for the SyFy channel…

It was like the producer found a few unrelated story outlines in the trash at Alcoholics Anonymous and said to himself, This is My Movie! Why should I pay some guy to come up with this stuff? Who threw these out, they’re fine; get Deborah to type them up, move some pieces around, I don’t know, put it in order, a few find replaces, maybe hire some loser to do the dialogue once we start shooting.  No, fuck that.  They can just make it up. They’re all playing themselves anyway. Tell them to go out there and talk. Be natural.  As long as Crowe or Wahlberg don’t actually beat somebody to death, we’re good.

The story was so bad it is impossible to watch more than once without being intoxicated or so distracted that you’re not watching it at all, you’re just in the room while it’s on.

It was one of those movies they start to make thinking they’ll do something Important, Win some Awards, then abandon halfway through, because, after all, it’s Costing Us Money. So Theme triumphs over Plot and Character, to the extent that Plot becomes farcical and Characters degenerate into script puppets, herking and jerking along to Make the Point of some hack who moralizes with a bullhorn. But even Theme never develops beyond the level of an Occupy slogan, and it ends up playing like the grand collaborative product of some State U op-ed writers, checking off the right boxes, to get that big shot at publishing unpaid blog entries on the Huffington Post.

Written by ulrichthered

May 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Movie Review

Tagged with , ,

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