Ria Gill, Jonathon Smith, Ronnie Angel, Marley Rey, Curt Darling, Scott Patrick Erwin
Movie Review: Broken City
It's probably worth noting before I get started that Broken City, an upcoming Indie Rights release, is not to be confused with a certain 2013 Mark Wahlberg/Russell Crowe crime drama of the same name.
In fact, despite an immensely lower production budget, this Terry Spears directed flick featuring a leading cast of mostly newcomers is a far more satisfying drama with a compelling story by Jonathon Smith and a gritty aura that works immensely in selling the intensity of the drama.
This Broken City centers around Maya (Ria Gill), a young woman living in a home with her mother that she's about to lose. Despite the inherent risks, Maya aligns with boyfriend Desmond (Jonathon Smith) to begin robbing affluent homes in an effort to save their own. The two recruit Andy (Ronnie Angel), a move that provides a little muscle but a move that also proves to be unpredictable as the volatile Andy turns out to have a darker side. During a crucial heist, Andy's darker side becomes perilous and the two suddenly find themselves fighting for their own lives amidst it all.
Broken City is at times obvious in the fact that it's a lower-budgeted indie crime drama, though there are times that works to a film's advantage and this is one of those times. Lensing by Spears is strong throughout in creating a heightened sense of tension and unpredictability that radiates in every moment and especially toward the film's climactic scenes.
It also seems to benefit Broken City that the film is led largely by newcomers. Ria Gill has an appealing naturalness as Maya, a sort of real-life weariness and anxiety that doesn't feel manufactured. In her first feature lead, Gill genuinely impresses. The same is true for Smith, who obviously also penned the script and makes his feature lead debut here with a combination bravado and confused morality. Ronnie Angel is much less of a newcomer, a fact that may help add to his amplified swagger as the far more confident, narcissistic, and ultimately dangerous of the group. Angel may be familiar to fans of films like Big Freakin' Snake, Hell of the Screaming Undead, and this year's Mega Ape though even in Angel's case this is one of his stronger roles.
Broken City does a terrific job of capturing the morally confused and cyclical nature of what begins as well-intended yet misguided crimes that quickly become confused by initial successes and a desire for even more. The film nails the easy escalation of crime and the profound impact it has on both those victimized by it and those who perpetuate it. There aren't really winners here and Broken City seems to understand that while still maintaining a sense of gritty empathy.
Broken City is set to release on Amazon and Tubi in the near future courtesy of indie distributor Indie Rights. For fans of gritty, intelligent crime dramas this is one to watch for in the near future.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic