Russell Crowe, sporting the banged “Nero” look, plays the slimy, mendacious, feckless Mayor of New York City, running for re-election; it will take years to erase Crowe’s insipid performance in “Les Miserables” ; gone is the grit of “John Nash” in “A Beautiful Mind”, poignancy of “James Braddock” in “Cinderella Man” or the mettle, dignity of “The Gladiator”. Disguising his Australian accent with a tainted, New Jersey dialect, he squeezes the maximum sleaziness out of his untoward character.
The Mayor matches wits with the police commissioner; Jeffrey Wright gives a scintillating performance; the screen simmers with his presence; unfortunately their moments together are too infrequent.
The backbone of “Broken City” is ex-cop, turned detective, stunningly depicted by Mark Walberg; encapsulated in his DNA is his inimitable ability to pungently portray a damaged man searching for a purer path but never shirks “getting even” when evil or darkness waylay his mission. There are so many dimensions to this misguided soul and Walberg capitalizes colossally on every one.
Catherine Zeta-Jones has the superficial task of starring as the idealistic wife of the mendicant Mayor; assuredly, she is still beautiful, but floundering in meager, meaningless roles since her Academy Award performance in “Chicago”.
Struggling with futility “Broken City” is redolently flawed from commencement to conclusion.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!