Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Bad Acting In Broken City

Published Thursday, 07 March 2013
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Is Mark Wahlberg really a movie star? Yes, he had a big part in Boogie Nights and kissed a simian in Planet Of The Apes and got high with a foul mouthed bear in Ted. But for me, he's Mark Wallpaper.

A bland performer with no screen presence. This week, he returns to our cinemas headlining a crime thriller, so what am I missing?

Wahlberg plays ex-cop Billy Taggart who, in the broken city of New York, seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure, the city's mayor (played by Russell Crowe). Throw into this big rotten apple murder, malice and an illicit affair involving the mayor's wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and a rival campaign manager (Kyle Chandler).

But sadly, in Broken City there is a lot that needs fixing. The dense plot has so many twists and turns that it ties itself in knots; three nots to be precise, not convincing, not dramatic and not thrilling.

"I'm not the bad guy" explains Taggart, but I'm afraid Wahlberg is no hero either. As one of the film's producers, he first offered the role of Billy Taggart to Michael Fassbender but, when he declined, Wahlberg decided to play the part himself. This was a huge mistake.

A great actor can paper over the cracks in even the flimsiest of plots. A weak actor makes them a chasm. If Broken City was to be repaired, it needed a strong lead like Denzel Washington, a charismatic performer capable of real complexity.

What we get is Marky Mark without any sparky spark, punctuating every sentence with a swear word in a desperate attempt at drama.

Oscar winner Russell Crowe fairs no better, sporting an atrocious side parting and orange chops. Crowe's career also seems to be heading for the dog house. "You know, women call men dogs" he barks "And if men are dogs, what the goddamn hell does that make women?" The rest of his dialogue is as much of a dog's dinner.

In an equally strange and unconvincing subplot Taggart's partner Natalie Burrow (played by Natalie Martinez) is pursuing a movie career. "It's not everyday your girlfriend stars in her first Indie film" she tells him. We first see poor Natalie reading the script of the fictional film 'Kiss And Tell'. Surely it has to be better than the film we are watching?

But worse is to come. Acting drunk looks easy but its certainly not. So when Wahlberg hits the bottle at the big movie premiere, we are treated to what must be the most laughable screen lush in cinema history.

This is an acting skunk pretending to be drunk, complete with woozy sound affects. An embarrassing scene that should have stayed in the can.

Next up for Wahlberg is Transformers 4. Trading blows with great clunks of hulking metal should suit him fine.

Broken City (Cert 15) is now on general release.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.


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