Russell Crowe does a lot of smirking (but no singing, thank you) in Broken City, a noirish thriller in which the beefy star sports a bespoke wardobe, nifty reading glasses, and the look of a man accustomed to getting his way. He is, after all, the mayor of New York, and he seems far more at ease than he does as Javert in Les Misérables.
With shades of Dashiell Hammett (corrupt pols, an in-over-his-head gumshoe, a mysterious dame, etc.), Broken City pits Crowe's Nick Hostetler against Mark Wahlberg's Billy Taggart, a fallen cop-turned-private eye hired to follow His Honor's wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The mayor says she's having an affair. He wants proof.
So down these mean streets Billy must go, looking for adulterers, but really looking for redemption. Directed by Allen Hughes (his first solo job after codirecting with his twin brother, Albert, on movies including Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, and The Book of Eli) from a screenplay by Brian Tucker, Broken City has a nice old-school vibe. Even an instrument of blackmail, an incriminating video, turns out to be recorded on a VHS tape. Quaint!
Billy operates from an office with a pebbled-glass door and a phone that's used mostly to harass deadbeat clients. He has a moony-eyed Gal Friday (Alona Tal) and a girlfriend, Natalie (Natalie Martinez), who's an indie film actress waiting for her big break.