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Broken City

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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog I discovered that my sins had created a spiritual racket that drowned out the gentle whispers of God to my soul; God had never actually abandoned me, but I needed repentance and sacramental grace to reawaken all that was good and beautiful in me.

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