Mark Wahlberg as the character Billy Taggart is a tough cop, but not necessarily a perfect one or a smart one. He goes up against all-powerful corrupt city Mayor Hostetler (played by Russell Crow) who blackmails him and double-crosses him. The problem is that Billy Taggart shot an unarmed suspect accused of rape and murder, instead of arresting him. Taggart's girlfriend is the sister of the girl that was raped and killed by the suspect that Taggart shot. This is the reason he did it. The Mayor has evidence of the shooting on video tape. There is a inquiry into the circumstances of the shooting, but instead of turning the evidence in, the Mayor uses his influence to get the case dropped. Taggert does not know what the Mayor did or why he did it. But he does find out later. Taggert is removed from the force instead of having to stand trial for his crime. When Taggert is kicked off the force he goes to work as a Private Detective and barely can make ends meet because his clients refuse to pay promptly for his services.
Many years have passed since the shooting and Taggert is seriously down on his luck. The still powerful Mayor offers him a job to spy on the Mayor's wife because the Mayor suspects her of infidelity. He wants Taggert to get photographic proof of this to use against her. He offers him $50,000, half paid up-front, for the job. This is a fortune for Taggert at this moment. It comes at a time with Taggert has no other options. Taggert quickly discovers that the Mayor's wife, Cathleen Hostetler (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) is cheating on him as he suspected. She is secretly meeting with his opposition's campaign manager during a time right before the Mayor is up for re-election.
The Mayor's wife tries to get evidence to prove the corruption of the Mayor because she wants a divorce and wants to destroy him in the process. It's not the campaign manager of the opposition that she is having an affair with, it's the guy running against the incumbent Mayor. Taggart also tries to get evidence proving the Mayor's involvement in corruption surrounding a major real estate deal that will cause the family of his girlfriend and many poor others to lose their apartments, just so an gigantic office complex can be built. But the Mayor stays one step ahead of both his wife and Taggert, thwarting their every move.
When Taggart finally succeeds in getting the proof he needs, he faces a critical choice of whether to reveal what he knows and have the Mayor turn him in for his crime of murder or keep silent and go along with the corruption of the "broken city" to stay out of jail.
Best part of story, including ending:
There are plenty of plot twists that keep the story interesting such as when it is revealed who the Mayor's wife is actually having an affair with and why.
Best scene in story:
When Taggart goes to the premier of his girlfriend's first film, he is surprised to see it contains erotic sex scenes between his girlfriend and another man. One can easily imagine how shocking this would be.
Opinion about the main character:
Taggert was supposed to be a good cop but his personal feelings on the job turn him into a vigilante instead which sets him up for all the troubles later. He could have made a better choice and simply arrested the bad guy instead of killing him. Of course that would ruin the movie, so he had to make such a big mistake to set up all that happens later on.