Mad City

Review Date:
Director: Costa-Gavras
Writer: Tom Matthews
Producers: Arnold Kopelson and Anne Kopelson
John Travolta as Sam Baily, Dustin Hoffman as Max Brackett
Recently fired employee Sam Baily returns to his ex-place of work, the museum, to attempt to get his job back. When his ex-employer doesn’t cooperate, he takes matter into his own hands by holding her, and several kids visiting the museum, hostage. A predatorial reporter named Max Brakett is also held hostage by Baily, and attempts to weave his sincere concerns into an extravagant news story to his benefit.
This film wasn’t really as bad as it was just plain boring. The film goes on for a little under two hours, with nothing new to add to the dozens of hostage films that Hollywood has spewed out over the years. Yes, it does attempt to show us how harmful the media can be in many such situations, but then again, don’t we hear about that crap on the nightly news every other evening? The umpteen shots of a “stampede” of reporters/cameramen leaping onto innocent victims of a news story also got boring quick (we get the point, Costa…). I also remember this film being marketed as a “suspense, but trust me when I tell you there ain’t much suspense here, kids. Nothing new was learned by JoBlo, and nothing original was attempted by veteran director Costa-Gavras. A rehash of a rehash of a rehash. If you really want to see a great hostage picture, go out and rent DOG DAY AFTERNOON (8/10) starring a young Alfonso Pacino, and get ready for some nacho-chewing fun! John Travolta actually surprised me in this film, by delivering an excellent rendition of an unemployed, dumb, nervous Joe Everyguy.

Never thought he could pull it off with his extreme popularity as a personality, but he did. Hoffman didn’t surprise me one bit in this film, and seemed to be walking through his role as the roving reporter. I did however notice the beautiful eyes of Mia Kirshner of EXOTICA fame. ‘Tis to note that JoBlo once had a crush on Mia while she attended his alma matter in Montreal, and even thought about meeting her in a hallway one day, and asking her out for a coffee. ‘Twas not to be. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone who has already seen any other hostage picture. Nothing in this movie will surprise or impress you. Its title spurts the flow of unoriginality, and it’s downhill from there. If you’re a big Travolta fan, or you dig the way he sported his sideburns in this flick (admittedly, I also dug the burns), then by all means, rent it with your friends, and count the number of things that you’ve already seen in other, better movies. If not, then rent the film I recommended earlier, or for a funnier, more upbeat hostage film, go out and rent another “dumb guy taking people hostage” film titled CADILLAC MAN, and starring the sporadically-funny Robin Williams. But don’t ever say that I never warned you about this film.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Mad City