Reviews for Broken City have been mixed, and at Rotten Tomatoes, it scores just 24% (audiences scored it 61%); however, as RT does, some of the reviews that have been labeled as rotten actually seem more favorable than not. Many of the reviews we read (of course not all), had good things to say about Russell’s performance, regardless what they thought of the other performances or the film as a whole. We’ve gathered up a few of those positive excerpts about Russell’s performance:
Best is Russell Crowe, as the mayor. From “L.A. Confidential” to “Les Miserables,” Crowe’s strongest suit has always been his sense of pained incomprehension; even when he played a genius in “A Beautiful Mind,” it was his hopeless confusion that drove it.
But here he abandons his usual dumb, wounded animal look to play crafty. His grinning, backslapping, spray-tanned New York mayor may not be the straightest nail in the box. But never doubt he’s the sharpest, and the likeliest to get the job done.
….there’s real pleasure in watching Russell Crowe throw himself into the zesty role of a crooked New York politician. Bloombergian only in his wealth, Crowe’s Mayor Hostetler is an oily, two-faced scoundrel…..
Sun Times (This is Roeper’s review; Ebert did not write a review for BC)
Like many a movie villain, Crowe favors his dog over people. It’s a pretty great performance from Crowe, as he throws his ham hands about and lectures everyone who comes within shouting distance. Wahlberg is solid, Wright puts his usual unique spin on his role, and Chandler is so good you want to see more of his character.
Then there’s Russell Crowe as the mayor, who goes into a televised debate with his opponent and shows all the world how to win an election in New York City. He may look like the smilingest crook on earth, but he plays up the neighborhood-guy attitude and accent, and rolls over the other candidate like a tank.
For years, Crowe has been playing brooding parts, but his role here, as the mayor — magnetic, dangerous, multisided — recalls the exuberance of his early, star-making roles in Australia.
Overall, it’s a strong ensemble, with Crowe in particular relishing the larger-than-life qualities of this ruthless political animal.
Unlike Mr. Crowe, whose peering, wary eyes always make it look as if he’s working an angle, sussing out the competition (and co-stars) to gain an advantage, Mr. Wahlberg often looks almost surprised by what’s happening around him.
The rest of the cast is actually kind of brilliant. Crowe trots out his thick New York accent from Cinderella Man and owns his scenes as the spray-tanned Mayor with the Cheshire grin. He gives a magnetic villainous performance, lying his way through every encounter and lending the character the gravity it needs to be believable. Zeta-Jones, although under-utilized, is Crowe’s equal as his jaded wife.
Russell Crowe is unusually energized as a pit-bull politician who never met a monologue he didn’t like. His dastardly Mayor Hostetler, complete with his eight-year-old schoolboy haircut and “here, get your fingerprints on this gun” exuberance with the props, may be the most entertaining character he’s brought to the screen since 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma, the last time he played a bad guy, come to think of it.