Review – ‘Broken City’ directed by Terry Spears

Written by Jonathan M. Smith and Terry Spears and directed by Terry Spears, Broken City is a 2023 crime thriller about a couple who start breaking into homes of rich families in order to alleviate their economic disparity.

Written by Jonathan M. Smith and Terry Spears and directed by Terry Spears, Broken City is a 2023 crime thriller about a couple who start breaking into homes of rich families in order to alleviate their economic disparity. The film stars Marley Rey, Curt Darling and Ria Gill.

The American economy is in a tailspin and Maya (played by Ria Gill) is about to lose her house in which her elderly mother resides. Desperate and out of options, Maya concocts  a nefarious plan with her boyfriend Desmond (played by Jonathan M. Smith). The couple decide to rob rich people’s houses to make their own mortgage payments. To do this, they enlist the help of Andy (Ronnie Angel). However, Andy is anything but trustworthy and his darker turns threaten to derail the whole plan with each progressive robbery. As the situation gets more grim, Maya and Desmond will find themselves in the fight of their lives against the unpredictable Andy.

From the start, Broken City comes across a raw, unfiltered look into the dangerous world of burglary, also called breaking and entering (B&E) and that is its greatest strength. While B&E is normally considered by the masses to be one of the most harmless crimes, the trauma and stress that victims go through is accurately captured by this film. Through the eyes of the protagonists, we are provided a peek into this world and as the protagonists go deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, so do we as well. With danger lurking at every corner and an inability to distinguish friends from foes, the film captures the essence of this seedy underbelly of crime well; a world where fortunes can shift at a moment’s notice and where death is just a moment away.

The script keeps the narrative flowing at a breakneck pace. The main characters are quickly introduced at the start and the story gets down to business. We see the protagonists dare to perform increasingly dangerous B&Es and at the same time, increase the threshold of risk hanging over themselves significantly. However, with such lucrative money making opportunities come the cost and the cost here is violence and unpredictability. Greed and desire soon overtake logical thinking and as a result, Maya and Desmond will find themselves in a situation that does not benefit them in any way or form.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the film is its visceral cinematography. Each shot is thematically resonant, giving the film a larger than life aura. Spears knows how to capture the action well, ensuring that the film works as well on a visual level as it does on a thematic level. The sound mixing and sound design is another aspect that elevates the film to a whole new level. From the near silent egresses into rich homes to the third act where all hell breaks loose, the sound mixing really makes the whole experience feel a lot more authentic. In addition, props to the creative team behind the project for using the limited budget to their advantage. The film looks and feels like a proper crime thriller and can, from a technical aspect, give any similarly themed piece of media a run for its money.

It is important to take note of the efforts of director Terry Spears here. Spears, having co-written the script, is the perfect person to bring this story to life. His characters are both deep and flawed and the way he sets up the story is both exciting and fun. Every crime thriller should have its own authentic twists and turns and here Spears manages to outdo himself. Spears captures the foreboding sense of terror authentically as he sets up a third act that is both surprising and original. In addition, the narrative pacing is also razorsharp ensuring the audience never gets bored of what is happening on screen.

Visually arresting and featuring some great performances, Broken City takes us into the criminal unknown as the protagonists find themselves pushed too hard in their pursuit of riches. With some unexpected twists and turns, Maya and Desmond find themselves in the fight of their lives, one that will have very real consequences for both of them. Terry Spears has thus managed to create a potent film, one that is not afraid to dive deep into the undesirable truths about crime whilst showcasing how it changes those who choose to engage in it for the worse.


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