Starts April 18
Directed by: Allen Hughes
Writing credits: Brian Tucker
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Alona Tal, Natalie Martinez, Michael Beach, Kyle Chandler, James Ransone, Griffin Dunne
Length: 109 minutes
Tightly scripted, tersely delivered, and compellingly acted, from the moment we first see Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) snagged in a major snafu until seven years later, we are engrossed. Harkening back to the Black Mask writers – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, etcetera from the 1930s through the 1950s – Tucker scatters significant clues throughout his story, eventually surprising us as much as the Mayor.
Charming yet treacherous, Mayor Hostetler (Crowe) contacts ex-cop now private investigator Taggart to investigate an affair he is sure his wife Cathleen (Zeta-Jones) is having. Citing dubious reelection repercussions from opponent Jack Valliant (Pepper), Hostetler insists Taggart bring him proof before Election Day in two weeks. With Katy’s (Tal) – secretary, office manager et al – help Taggart focuses on the assignment, as his personal relationship with Natalie (Martinez) crumbles. A wary confrontation with Police Chief Fairbanks (Wright) at a related homicide scene introduces dangerous insights. Taggert hones in on the larger corruption scandal, culminating in one candidate’s short-lived election victory.
Oscar® recipients Zeta-Jones (Chicago) and Crowe (Gladiator), with the nominated Wahlberg (The Fighter), lead an exceptional cast under Hughes direction. Cinematographer Ben Seresin captures New York from fresh perspectives, and the pace and tension is reinforced through Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross and Claudia Sarne’s original music. Reminiscent of the old school hard-boiled detective genre where murder outs justice, the film’s ending is apropos: sometimes people realize too late whom they should not underestimate. (Marinell H.)