|Russell Crowe hires Marky Mark.|
Directed by Allen Hughes
Produced by Remington Chase, Randall Emmett, George Furla, Allen Hughes, Stephen Levinson, Arnon Milchan, Teddy Schwarzman, and Mark Wahlberg
Written by Brian Tucker
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler, Natalie Martinez, and Jeffrey Wright
In Allen Hughes' first solo attempt at directing a theatrical feature, Mark Wahlberg stars as Billy Taggart, a retired New York cop turned private investigator. As fate would have it, he is given a big assignment by Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Crowe) to investigate his wife Cathleen (Zeta-Jones) - specifically, her extramarital affair with an unknown lover (Chandler). Billy jumps at the opportunity (and the $50,000 paycheck), and he follows the woman to learn her secret. After completing his work, he gives the mayor evidence proving the affair, and walks away. That, of course, is not the end, as many new details emerge about the mayor, his wife, the man, and larger conspiracies. Now, the trailer tells you as much as I have, but on the slight chance you do see this, I don't want to spoil any of the plot twists. Suffice it to say there are loads of them.
Though the plot is your standard conspiracy setup, the performances are actually very good. Wahlberg has played this type of role before, but he excels at it (again). Crowe, meanwhile, is my favorite working actor, and he never disappoints. He gives a solid performance as a deeply rooted but underwritten character. As is the sad, overused formula, Zeta-Jones is relegated to a few scenes, in which she barely has time to do anything memorable. However, the scenes between her and Crowe are some of the highlights of the film. Also, Wahlberg and Crowe have an interesting chemistry, which could've been better utilized. The lack of contact between their characters left me wanting more, and their conversations and ongoing battle are never boring. Still, it all feels too familiar, too calculated, too by-the-book. It's a decent crime thriller, but there's a reason it was released this early: because it will be forgotten before the summer blockbusters arrive in a few months.
Oscar Potential: None