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Broken City Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Jeffrey Wright, Alona Tal, Natalie Martinez, Michael Beach, Kyle Chandler, James Ransone

Broken City: A cop-turned-P.I. is out for revenge after the corrupt Mayor of New York attempts to frame him for murder. This film is a lot of things, some of them not what you’d expect, but for all the shortcomings, it’s always quite fun to watch, if you go along with it. The casting is top-notch, and for the most part, everyone’s giving it welly – particularly Crowe, who’s clearly having a ball. Marky Mark is playing short-tempered Marky Mark, Barry Pepper is – as always – a solid minor character, Zeta-Jones is a seductive MILF… that’s all fairly standard. My biggest issue is that it’s an out-and-out 40s/50s noir script, but set in contemporary New York. It wants to have all of the classic genre elements, but in a modern setting – but it just doesn’t sit well: unlike something like Brick, which has more of a timeless feel. There’s also a ridiculous sub-plot about his model/actress wife, that doesn’t really go anywhere – he should have just been hardboiled. Although not quite as good as you’d expect from this caliber of actors, it’s nowhere near bad – more like the kind of film that you would see being re-re-re-re-repeated at 11pm on a weeknight on some far-flung channel, but with a stellar cast and decent director.

Score: 6.5/10

Red 2 Wallpaper Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-hun Lee, Jong Kun Lee, David Thewlis, Neal McDonough, Garrick Hagon, Tim Pigott-Smith, Brian Cox

Red 2: a Retired, Extremely Dangerous (RED) agent Frank Moses is back on the radar when an APB goes out to every contract killer in the world, with a tasty bounty on his head. First off, although he’s in a restrictive role (and – skeptically – probably only to sell tickets in Asia) I like the gamble of casting a Korean megastar that is relatively unknown in the West. Even delivering phonetic/over-dubbed lines Lee Byung-Hun steals his scenes, and raises the action bar – peaking in the impressive and innovative fridge-door fight in Moscow. It’s also as funny as RED was, but every single laugh is John Malkovich“If there’s one thing I know, it’s women and covert operations”. Hopkins is entertaining, Louise-Parker & Zeta-Jones are both hyphenated surnames, and dame Mirren also enjoyable company. The setup is rrrrrather contemporary for a comic – a’la WikiLeaks, but the overall story (and film) don’t flow particularly well as they’re determined to have a James Bond style travelogue element – popping up here, there, and everywhere for no real reason: London, Moscow, Paris, America… despite this, it’s hard not to switch off by the end as the required ‘twisty-turny’ but overall a fairly predictable story arc plays out – what’s wrong with goodies being good and baddies staying bad?!?!? Basically, Bruce Willis doing a dialed-in ‘wise guy’ with diluted attitude, surrounded by people you’d rather be watching – all reminding you of that film ‘Paycheck’, but for the wrong reasons. Less Die Hard, more Die Soft and wrinkly.

Score: 5.5/10