A Brother Goes it Alone: Allen Hughes on directing his first solo feature, 'Broken City'

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Image Credit: Eric Alexander-Hughes

Twin-brother directors Albert and Allen Hughes have been making movies together ever since their mother bought them a video camera when they were 12 years old. For as long as they can remember, they split everything down the middle: “My mom raised us as communists in the best sense of the word,” says Allen Hughes, 40. “We had the same amount of Kool-Aid, the same number of Cheerios.” But being part of a directing team is like being in a band; no matter how much success you may have together – and over the past two decades, the Hughes brothers have had plenty, from their breakout 1993 debut Menace II Society to their 2001 thriller From Hell to their 2010 postapocalyptic action film The Book of Eli – there comes a time when you feel the itch to go solo. “As you get older, you get on different pages,” says Allen, who acknowledges that working with Albert had its stormy moments. “Just ask Fleetwood Mac about that.”

And so Allen decided to make his first feature without Albert, the R-rated crime thriller Broken City, opening Jan. 18. The film stars Mark Wahlberg as an ex-cop hired by the mayor of New York (Russell Crowe) to look into whether his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is having an affair, only to uncover political corruption on a massive scale. With a gritty, stripped-down quality reminiscent of a ’70s-era Sidney Lumet drama, Broken City marks a departure from the slam-bang, hyperviolent fare for which the filmmaking duo are known. “The Hughes brothers’ [films] are more action-oriented and push things stylistically,” says Allen. “It was a joy for me to sip some wine for a change and just let it breathe.” Broken City doesn’t necessarily mean the siblings have broken up for good. While Albert is pursuing his own first solo feature film, and Allen is preparing a remake of the 2005 South Korean film A Bittersweet Life, the two still plan to collaborate on some projects and are developing a potential documentary for HBO. So what does Albert think of his twin brother’s first solo movie? “He hasn’t seen it yet,” Allen says. He laughs drily. “That will be interesting.”

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Movie Preview: Broken City

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