Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says Iffy for 16+
Political thriller mixes violence, language, drinking, sex.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Broken City is a mature political thriller with lethal violence, strong language, and lots of heavy drinking. Starring Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg, it's the kind of star-studded, testosterone-driven movie that teens might find appealing. But there's some pretty intense violence (including images of gunshot victims and brutal fighting), near-constant swearing (especially "f--k"), alcohol use (Wahlberg's character is a recovering and then lapsed alcoholic), and a couple of sex scenes (one is in a movie within the movie, and the other features a topless woman). The majority of the characters are deeply flawed, compromised, or corrupt, but there is a lesson here about redemption and sacrifice for the greater good. A subplot involves homosexuality; some derogatory terms are used.
- Families can talk about the amount of violence in Broken City. Would the movie be less compelling without it?
- Broken City has several corrupt characters, particularly those with political standing. Do you think real-life politicians and lawmakers have as many scandalous secrets as Mayor Hostetler and Commissioner Fairbanks?
- How does the movie portray drinking and alcohol? What are the consequences for Billy of falling off the wagon? Do they seem realistic?
The good stuff
Positive messages: The only positive message is that the main character is able to redeem himself by owning up to his wrongdoing and exposing someone else who's committing crimes.
Positive role models: Most of the characters are deeply flawed and even corrupt in some ways. That said, Councilman Valliant seems to be a good guy who truly wants what's best for the city; Andrews wants Valliant to run a campaign on the up and up, rather than resort to mudslinging; Billy's assistant, Katy, is caring and hardworking; and Billy shows that redemption is possible. On the other hand, there's a cop who kills in cold blood, a police commissioner who commits adultery with the mayor's wife, and a mayor who orders people killed.
What to watch for
Violence: The movie begins with a close-up shot of a man who was shot in the head and killed. Another man is shown shot and dead in the street. Two men get into a hand-to-hand fight that ends with one of them beaten/kicked/killed. A husband caresses his wife in a way that's almost menacing. A car chase leads to an accident. A general sense of menace/the potential for explosive reactions.
Sexy stuff: Through a camera lens, a woman is shown topless, wearing only a thong, on top of a much older man (who's presumably committing adultery). Based on secret meetings and embraces, someone believes the mayor and the opposition's campaign manager are having an affair. In a movie within the movie, a character is shown having sex (she's undressed by her lover and then shown in a sexual position, but the camera focuses on her face).
Language: Very frequent use of words including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," "douche," "d--k," "p---y," "ass," "damn," "hell," "goddamn," "oh my God," and more. The word "fag" is used a couple of times, as is the word "homo."
Consumerism: A few car brands are visible: Chevy, Honda, and Suburban, and Jameson Whiskey is mentioned a couple of times. The news channel New York 1 is featured a few times.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Almost everyone in the movie seems like an alcoholic. Although Billy refrains for the first half of the movie, he's constantly offered a drink at every meeting he attends and eventually gets incredibly drunk at a bar; when drunk, he's angry, belligerent, and destructive. Other people drink heavily during cocktail parties, meetings, and dinners. When Billy finally drinks again, a character tells him "good for you."