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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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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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