Mad City - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mad City Reviews

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FiLmCrAzY
Super Reviewer
April 20, 2009
I quite liked this movie, dustin hoffman was brill and so was john travoltas acting.
John travlta is a security guard who gets sacked but he wants it back so it turns into a hostage situation with dustin playing the reporter and in the heeart of it all.
I think this is a brilliantly acted surperb film with a heart wrenching ending and something to relate to as well its has some humour and you feel sorry for travoltas character !
well worth a watch !!
Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2009
A thought-provoking thriller that takes embedded journalism to a new level when a TV reporter (Hoffman) finds himself trapped in an accidental hostage situation. John Travolta plays to perfection the role of a simple, irate museum security guard who just wants his job back. Costa-Gavras takes his scathing satire of media influence a bit too far, but as this was intended to be a mainstream movie he had to make the satire obvious. An interesting plot and enjoyable to watch even if it was a bit slow at times.
thmtsang
Super Reviewer
July 14, 2007
Good movie. John's character holds schoolchildren hostage.
Super Reviewer
½ December 21, 2008
This movie is a tough call for the two lesding men! Maybe a little less acting, and more entertaining.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2008
Unexpected ending, but the movie was boring overall. I don't know if it was that the actors were wrong for this movie or if it was just a bad movie.
½ June 27, 2014
Well this movie surprised be by being really good. There a definitely some things taken from earlier films (ace in the hole big time) and many hostage movies around this time. I have to give this film credit though it bring up lots of issues and says a lot of things about our culture and the media and human ambition. I also think hoffman and travolta give great performances and work well together. Alan Alda Again does a turn on his usually likable self and is somewhat of the villain, even though everyone had a bad side in the movie. This time i go against the reviews, this is a very well done movie.
August 16, 2010
Review #6 Drama, Newsroom type

This film was definately obvious. It was rather impressing with it's acting, but it's direction was all over the place.

The best part of the film? the ending. It was brillant. Which I can't say fore the rest of the film.
August 23, 2010
An interesting interpretation of how the media can take an accidental crime and first turn the man into a hero, then lynch him. Travolta is not typically an actor that I like, but he was incredibly convincing - anybody who has never seen a "typical" Travolta movie would probably believe that in real life he is a nervous and insecure person. The best aspect of this film is the character development and transformation in Travolta, Hoffman, and (unexpectedly) Kirshner. Prosky (who I remember from Mrs. Doubtfire) was great and, though his role was limited to the first 10 minutes of the movie, he perfectly set up Hoffman's character development. I love Ted Levine in any cop role and Alda proved to be despicable. Overall, Mad City has a decent plot but its strong cast and great character development make it a great experience.
½ June 14, 2010
I wish Costa-Gavras was still active. This is from 1997 and the satire about TV news is viciously incisive, and the great thing is it isn't dated at all. In fact, it's probably more relevant now that most people don't even watch the news, not even cable news. So the cheaper the gimmicks and the bigger the rhetorical plays to get the viewer back on, the more it feels like it was all predicted.
November 21, 2009
Travolta's flexability is awesome in this "out of character" role. Can't imagine anyone doing it better.
November 10, 2009
I really disagree with what others said that this movie was bad and boring and whatever they say...This movie might be missing a little action and has a little too much dialogue but overall, it's pretty interesting for me, and besides I think that John Travolta has done a good performance. I like this movie
August 4, 2009
An INTERESTING film on the power and corruption of modern-day media.
It's unfortunate that DUSTIN HOFFMAN didn't have an equally strong actor to play beside. Instead enter JOHN TRAVOLTA who presents to us a cheesy and completely unrealistic character creating a cartoon out of what should've been a profound drama. SKIP IT!
August 1, 2009
Although doubtless marketed in a traditionally Hollywood campaign with traditional Hollywood tag-lines, Mad City wasn‚??t the sort of movie you see every day. While it did contain action, bits of comedy, and eventual pyrotechnics, every element of the production was quite obviously driven by a collection of powerful themes that director Costa-Gavras wanted to drill home, all of them concerning the role of the media in reporting - or creating - real events.
The film pits the sly and charming news reporter, Max Brackett (Dustin Hoffman), against the moody whims of would-be hostage-taker Sam Baily (John Travolta). The pair is united by a twist of fate - Brackett happens to be using a museum‚??s restroom when a disgruntled former employee, Baily, armed with a shotgun and dynamite, begins demanding his job back outside.

Brackett sees an opportunity, as any newscaster would, and ignites a media circus around the events that eventually spins out of control. Thus is one of the fundamental messages of the film, superficially laid out for the 6-year-olds in the audience at about ten minutes in - ‚??the media are vultures.‚?? Not particularly original, but it‚??s done moderately well: as Brackett goads Baily down the path more palatable to television viewers, he movie does a nice job questioning the fine line between reporting the news as it happens and inventing it.

As media and pop culture attention turns a focused eye on the crisis, the story takes some excellent turns - first, Baily is the poster-boy of the lower class and workers‚?? rights, then of the difficulties of parenthood, and then of the Neo-Nazi movement. The film expertly shows how a victim of circumstance can be manipulated and misinterpreted to support literally any platform.

Both of the lead actors seemed to have ‚??called it in‚?? for this one, neither of them presenting much more than lazy and unenthusiastic boredom for the entire course of the film. In Max Brackett, the screenwriters offer a genuinely interesting character - who wouldn‚??t be intrigued by a news reporter becoming the mediator of a hostage situation? But in the final product, the Brackett character fails to have whatever potential the concept might have allowed him; whether this is due to poor screenwriting or Hoffman‚??s seemingly one-dimensional performance, I can‚??t be sure.

From the outset, Mr. Baily is an entirely unbelievable character. He‚??s a total moron in just about every sense of the word, and his motivations for bringing both a shotgun and dozens of sticks of dynamite (you‚??ll need more than that to wake Hoffman and Travolta up from their apparent daze) into his former place of work are completely ridiculous. Baily‚??s reasoning behind the shotgun is almost understandable in the sense that he simply wanted irritating Mrs. Banks (Blythe Danner) to ‚??listen to him‚?? - a line that‚??s repeated about fifteen times before the film‚??s over - but dynamite?

The film made extensive use of matt√® shots, especially when looking at Baily trapped inside the museum. Other than that, the rest of the cinematography was surprisingly rudimentary, filled with medium shots and the occasional extreme close-up for those especially tense moments. Whenever Baily put down his weapon for even a split second, the audience was bombarded with these frequent quick shots of Brackett eyeing the gun, suggesting that the prop might be leading up to some future conflict or resolution. But it leads nowhere, running out of ammunition just when Baily is contemplating suicide. And, honestly, he ‚??accidentally‚?? fires that thing about three hundred times, once killing his former friend and co-worker. How long is the audience expected to suspend our disbelief?

I hate to be picky, but somebody did an awful sloppy job with the editing, because on at least five occasions the audio fails to match up with events on-screen, and dubbing was painfully out of sync. It wasn‚??t even like the actors‚?? mouths were just a little out of time, they were saying completely different sentences!

The film in its entirety could be summarized with its most important character, the network intern named Laurie Callahan (Mia Krishner) who is utterly transformed by the media circus by the end of the film. At the beginning, she‚??s a mild-mannered camerawoman and assistant, willing to help the wounded security guard as the crisis first appears. But by the end, she‚??s a heartless news-machine, caring little for the death of Mr. Baily and irreverently referring to him as ‚??confetti.‚??

Although its themes were a tad trite, they were nonetheless effectively and entertainingly executed. The film tells an interesting and somewhat unique story but, I don‚??t know, I liked it better when it was called "Ace in the Hole." Overall, I‚??d give Mad City a generous 40%. M.
½ May 29, 2009
Yeah, okay. Watching it 'cause Dyllan's in it. Briefly. His famous line ("That's my daddy") is also his only line. He does, on the other hand, get billing over quite a lot of people, including Jay Leno. Leno himself, in fact, gets billing midway through instead of in the traditional end section of "as himself." Though, in this instance, it's him and Larry King, and though Larry King has more screen time, his appearance is uncredited. So that's weird. I don't understand the billing here at all, frankly. There must have been some interesting contract negotiations to get John Travolta over Dustin Hoffman, given that the film is much more about Hoffman's character. Travolta's character could be anyone; that's the point of the whole thing. It's not as though one is that much bigger of a star than the other. (I will also note that, from what I can read of the very fine print under the "raving critics" in one of the TV commercials, it seems to be the same critic for all of them--and not someone we're expected to care about, given how [i]very[/i] small that print is.) I'm not sure the movie understands what it's about half the time.

Max Brackett (Hoffman) is a washed-up newsman doing TV in small-town California. We first see him trying to do an interview with a local banker and probable embezzler who has lost the lifesavings of probably hundreds of people. On the other hand, he's friends with Brackett's boss (Robert Prosky, also of [i]Dudley Do-Right[/i]), so the story gets killed and Brackett gets sent to cover the funding battle of the local museum. While he's there, former guard Sam Baily (Travolta) comes in to talk with Mrs. Banks (Blythe Danner), the museum's curator, about the prospect of getting his job back. She says she won't talk to him until he puts the gun down, and he responds by taking her, and the class of probably third-graders, hostage, locking down the museum--with Brackett in it. Brackett makes Baily a huge story, stretching out the hostage situation for three days. It becomes big news, which means network anchor Kevin Hollander (Alan Alda) comes in to try to take over.

We like to blame things on the media. Oh, it's shocking what happens--it's all the fault of Max Brackett and The Media. They're only interested in selling the story. And you know what? Yes. They are. It turns out that the banker is probably going to go to jail after all, and no one cares, because the news comes out in the middle of the hostage situation. Baily accidentally shoots (strangely uncredited) Cliff Williams (Bill Nunn), the other guard, and Brackett tells intern Laurie Callahan (Mia Kirshner) to call the station before calling the police, and he later berates her for not taking the camera with her when she went to check on Williams's condition. The story is more important. And it's hard to argue that news channels in the Real World don't do that, because we've seen it happen.

But we watch. Faithfully. [i]The Daily Show[/i] gets away with covering real news because we're tuning in for the funny. But let's be honest, here. If Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper spent an hour going in-depth about the less visually stimulating issues, such as the Alberto Gonzalez hearings, would people watch? It's arguably vitally important to the proper running of government, not to mention [i]personally[/i] important to unknown numbers of people, but it barely makes the news--[i]because we won't watch it.[/i] The networks have all but stopped covering the quadrennial national conventions of the two major parties, because nobody watches it. It's not as though there's some huge dash to C-SPAN for those two weeks. We complain about what the media shows, but it's our fault, too. Heck, we don't visit museums, either, so we don't even know how lousy the museum in the movie is.

Oh, don't get me wrong. It's still a good movie--possibly the best Dyllan's been in--and I'm glad I made a second effort to watch it. (I got it from Netflix months ago and just couldn't face it, probably because of how many of his movies I've already seen.) It is actually something I'm recommending, though not as highly as other movies we've seen. I don't think it deserves the comparison to [i]Network[/i] that the DVD proudly makes, though it does cover a lot of the same material. Worse, Travolta's character actually seems retarded, at least mildly, and no one seems to care about that except his wife (Lucinda Jenney, who was in [i]If These Walls Could Talk 2[/i], filmed in part at Mom's house)--who is then insulted for thinking of him as childlike. Only he is. They both know it. It's just that no one else cares, including the people watching the news.
January 4, 2009
I find this film entertaining despite its derivative nature. It fits snugly in the 'cable recovery' class of movies where it becomes difficult to take your eyes off it while flipping through channels. There's something to be said for that. Hoffman and Travolta don't exactly mail it in and their chemistry and energy determine the flow of the plot. More often than not, they maintain the ability to keep you locked in.
July 19, 2008
A decent movie with some not-so-subtle commentary about the state of our country's media and our society.
½ October 2, 2007
A devistating tale of broadcast news manipulation. The ethics violations of the media in this film have happened in the past, but never compounded into the span of a few days. In that regard, the film is unrealistic. However, this film is worth watching for its commentary on the consequences of irresponsible or manipulative broadcast journalism.
½ August 5, 2007
Interesting satire on what the media can do to a man. Great performances by Hoffman and Travolta, but would have been a lot better if it were a half an hour shorter. It dragged on at the end and by the time it ended I didn't care anymore.
½ July 29, 2007
i saw this on tv today, it was surprisingly good! (not as in surprising that it was good, but like good, and surprisingly so)
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