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Mad City

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Mad City

Starring: John Travolta, Dustin Hoffman
Director: Constantin Costa-Gavras
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 114 Minutes
Release Date: November 1997
Genres: Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Alan Alda, Mia Kirshner, Robert Prosky, Blythe Danner, Larry King

Review by David Wilcock
2 stars out of 4

Mad City is a potenially good film which is ruined because Hollywood formula takes over it. Hoffman plays news reporter Max Brackett, who while doing a report in a museum, gets caught in a unintentional hostage situation when former employee Sam Baily (Travolta) bursts in with a shotgun demanding his job back. Brackett, instead of panicking his head off, calmy turns this situation into a massive media event. Although Travolta only wanted his job back, he's now going to become a big American hero thanks to Brackett. Mad City has the potential to be a great movie, but sadly it never even seems to try to be a big movie. The easiest way to find the flaws is comparing this movie to the section 'David Wilcocks 3 points to a OSCAR winning movie.' Let's take a look....

1) "The Movie Must Have Great Performances" Well, Mad City is 50/50 here. Dustin Hoffman is brilliant as a news reporter under pressure, he's calm, collective and deviously manipulating. He's having much more fun here than other films he made recently, such as Sphere (1998). Travolta, however, while a good actor in other films, is just O.K here. Some scenes he does well, and he's generally good fun, but he's overshadowed by Hoffman. Sadly, Travolta just isn't powerful enough. Alan Alda also makes an appearence as a rival news reporter, and he adds some life to the performances

2) "The Movie Must Have Great Direction." Costa-Gravas seems to be having fun, and there's no faults with the directing. In some scenes he directs well (such as Travoltas heart-warming plea to the nation to get his job back) and gets emotion out of the audience. Mainly, though, it's suprinsgly average, and disappointing.

3) "The Movie Must Have an Intelligent Story and Script." So close here. Mad City's story is good, but the script never does it justice. It's so basic and flawed, and it never tries to develop the characters. Brackett remains as the reporter who wants to get the big story, Travolta remains the confused guy who wants his job back. In short: they're flat, 2-D characters. The dialogue itself can sound terrible, and it's always aimed at the dumbest person in the audience. A shame.

In the end, Mad City is too flawed and too mediorce, and throughout the whole film I just got the feeling this wan oppurtunity missed. Although it has flashes of brilliance, Mad City falls into the trap of 'average.'

Copyright 1998 David Wilcock

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