By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist November 25, 2010 at 2:00AM
Plan Is For Allen Hughes To Direct
The week leading up to Thanksgiving is always a quiet one, and this week was no exception -- there's been very little news to go round. So thank the god of movie blogs for Mark Wahlberg, who seems to have caused about 75% of all news stories this week. He's not in "The Crow!" He is in David O. Russell's "Uncharted!" He thought "The Happening" was a giant piece of shit too! And, even on Turkey Day itself, the artist formerly known as the leader of the Funky Bunch has come through, giving details of a new project he's circling to MTV.
The actor, when asked what else he had cooking, told the site that "there's this other thing, "Broken City," that I want to do at the end of next year with Allen Hughes directing, which is on the Black List. It's one of the best unproduced screenplays, an amazing piece of material that should attract amazing talent."
If Wahlberg digs "Broken City," he's a better judge of material that we thought: it's a pretty terrific script, and one of our favorites of recent years. A neo-noir as dark as night, it follows Billy Taggart, an ex-cop thrown off the force after shooting a 16-year-old kid. Eight years on, he's working as a private detective, and is hired by the colorful incumbent in the New York mayoral race to investigate his wife's infidelity.
It doesn't exactly sound like the freshest set up around, but there's all kinds of tangents and intrigues in the script, most notably in relation to Billy's girlfriend, a rising actress whose stalker has just been freed on a technicality. More than anything else, the convoluted plot and study of corruption in the big city makes it reminiscent of "Chinatown," and Taggart's a fascinating protagonist -- a man trying with every fiber of his being to be good, but unable to fight off the darkness he's capable of. It's a good match for Wahlberg, if unlike almost anything he's played before.
The plot goes to some incredibly dark, brutal places by the end, with a conclusion that feels like a punch in the gut -- so much so that we simply assumed that the script would never get made, and that it had just served as a writing sample (which indeed it did -- scribe Brian Tucker used it to land the gig on the remake of Park Chan-Wook's "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance"). As such, Wahlberg faces an uphill struggle to get it made -- while the project was originally set up at Lionsgate, through John Malkovich's Mr. Mudd shingle, there's no word on whether it's still there.
The slight qualm we have here is with regard to director Allen Hughes -- while we're obviously fans of "Menace II Society" and "Dead Presidents," the last two films that Hughes directed with brother Albert, "From Hell" and this year's "The Book Of Eli," were both pretty awful. But maybe this'll see him get his mojo back. The only other question is what this means for "Akira," which The Hughes Brothers are meant to be directing together early next year. Will Allen hand the bulk of post-production duties to his brother as he goes off to direct "Broken City?" Seems doubtful and the manga adaptation is likely coming first and the Black List script hopefully will come later down the line when some studio has the balls to not whitewash what is an excellent, but dark work. We're sure it'll become clear in future weeks and while we're at it, can we ask what the hell happened to the once-hot Black List script, "Prisoners" by newcomer Aaron Guzikowski that had Wahlberg and Christian Bale attached? They and director Bryan Singer bailed long ago and several directors and A-list actors (Leonardo DiCaprio being one) circled the project at one time, but frankly, it was so white hot at one moment, we're surprised it hasn't been already made.