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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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Peter and Paul: 
		<strong>Peter (d. 64?)</strong>. St. Mark ends the first half of his Gospel with a triumphant climax. He has recorded doubt, misunderstanding and the opposition of many to Jesus. Now Peter makes his great confession of faith: "You are the Messiah" (Mark 8:29b). It was one of the many glorious moments in Peter's life, beginning with the day he was called from his nets along the Sea of Galilee to become a fisher of men for Jesus. 
<p>The New Testament clearly shows Peter as the leader of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. With James and John he was privileged to witness the Transfiguration, the raising of a dead child to life and the agony in Gethsemane. His mother-in-law was cured by Jesus. He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus' death. His name is first on every list of apostles. </p><p>And to Peter only did Jesus say, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:17b-19). </p><p>But the Gospels prove their own trustworthiness by the unflattering details they include about Peter. He clearly had no public relations person. It is a great comfort for ordinary mortals to know that Peter also has his human weakness, even in the presence of Jesus. </p><p>He generously gave up all things, yet he can ask in childish self-regard, "What are we going to get for all this?" (see Matthew 19:27). He receives the full force of Christ's anger when he objects to the idea of a suffering Messiah: "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do" (Matthew 16:23b). </p><p>Peter is willing to accept Jesus' doctrine of forgiveness, but suggests a limit of seven times. He walks on the water in faith, but sinks in doubt. He refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then wants his whole body cleansed. He swears at the Last Supper that he will never deny Jesus, and then swears to a servant maid that he has never known the man. He loyally resists the first attempt to arrest Jesus by cutting off Malchus's ear, but in the end he runs away with the others. In the depth of his sorrow, Jesus looks on him and forgives him, and he goes out and sheds bitter tears. The Risen Jesus told Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep (John 21:15-17). </p><p><strong>Paul (d. 64?)</strong>. If the most well-known preacher today suddenly began preaching that the United States should adopt Marxism and not rely on the Constitution, the angry reaction would help us understand Paul's life when he started preaching that Christ alone can save us. He had been the most Pharisaic of Pharisees, the most legalistic of Mosaic lawyers. Now he suddenly appears to other Jews as a heretical welcomer of Gentiles, a traitor and apostate. </p><p>Paul's central conviction was simple and absolute: Only God can save humanity. No human effort—even the most scrupulous observance of law—can create a human good which we can bring to God as reparation for sin and payment for grace. To be saved from itself, from sin, from the devil and from death, humanity must open itself completely to the saving power of Jesus. </p><p>Paul never lost his love for his Jewish family, though he carried on a lifelong debate with them about the uselessness of the Law without Christ. He reminded the Gentiles that they were grafted on the parent stock of the Jews, who were still God's chosen people, the children of the promise. </p><p>In light of his preaching and teaching skills, Paul's name has surfaced (among others) as a possible patron of the Internet.</p> American Catholic Blog The way of the cross is unavoidably uphill. Christians don’t get to carry their cross downhill. Suffering has always been inextricably linked with Christianity, but those who carry their cross willingly in these times can serve as an example and inspiration to all of us.

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