If Michael Bloomberg had an evil twin — hoarse with power and wealth, swollen with macho entitlement — he’d probably look a lot like Russell Crowe in “Broken City.” As New York City mayor Nick Hostetler, Crowe is the best thing in Allen Hughes’s cluttered, formulaic thriller, which is to say he’s enjoyably terrible. With his perma-tan, Julius Caesar bangs, and an outer-borough yawp that lands on your ears like the Sunday Post hitting your doorstep, Hostetler is a New York monster to rank with J.J. Hunsecker in the classic “Sweet Smell of Success.” Too bad the movie’s not remotely up to that level.
Mark Wahlberg plays the lead role of Billy Taggart, a city cop who shoots and kills an unarmed rapist and is busted off the force. Cut to seven years later, and Billy is a private detective working the usual adulteries until the mayor calls him in for a favor. His wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) has been stepping out, and with Hostetler going neck-and-neck with crusading city counselor Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper) in the upcoming election, the last thing the mayor wants is to look like a cuckold. That’s not how Brian Tucker’s script puts it, but you get the drift.