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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Broken City

By
Adam Shaw
Source: Catholic News Service


Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg star in a scene from the movie "Broken City."
Scandal, intrigue and a surfeit of bad language combine to form "Broken City" (Fox). This thriller with political overtones is strictly for those who can withstand actors growling their lines, downing two shots of whiskey in one go and dropping a payload worth of F-bombs.

Seven years after being acquitted in the suspicious shooting of a rapist and murderer, ex-cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is approached by the mayor of New York, Nicolas Hostetler (a sensational Russell Crowe), who wants to make a deal: Hizzoner withheld evidence of Taggart's wrongdoing; now, he wants Taggart to return the favor with some private-eye work.

With the mayoral election looming and feisty new rival Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper) posing a threat to his reign, Hostetler is determined to retain his office by any means necessary. But he fears that his wife, Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones), is two-timing him. So, for $50,000, the former officer is dispatched to follow, find, and film the illicit couple.

Predictably, things are not what they seem in director Allen Hughes' picture, and the grizzled Taggart quickly finds himself caught in a web of intrigue and blackmail. He has other troubles as well, namely, his struggle with alcoholism and his complicated, frequently strained relationship with girlfriend—and wannabe actress—Natalie (Natalie Martinez).

Moviegoers of faith will be pleased by Taggart's commitment to justice, despite the sometimes murky means by which he seeks to achieve it. Laudably, Brian Tucker's screenplay shows the true costs and consequences of corruption. And, while it encourages viewers to understand Taggart's morally dubious choices, his script doesn't prompt them to approve.

Yet the evident desire to turn out a gritty movie sends things off track, with scenes of heavy drinking interspersed with locker-room vulgarities.

Although at least one scene implies that Taggart and Natalie are living together, he is at least shown to be a believer in marital fidelity. In fact, when he reproaches the mayor's wife with her breach of trust, she tauntingly responds, "Are you stupid or Catholic?"

The film contains occasional graphic violence, possible cohabitation, fleeting but strong sexual imagery, brief upper female nudity, mature themes, including adultery and homosexuality, about half-a-dozen uses of profanity, pervasive rough language, occasional crude and crass terms and a couple of anti-gay slurs. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
Adam Shaw is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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