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This isnt a mad film! Give it a chance
Mad City (DVD)
Member Name: richy77
Mad City (DVD)
Date: 10/05/02, updated on 10/05/02 (116 review reads)
Advantages: Good actors, Reasonable Story, Entertaining
Disadvantages: Some silly scenes
Mad City was released in 1997 and received indifferent reviews. Here is my review of the film.
Max Brackett (Dustin Hoffman) is a local TV reporter who has seen his career take a downward spiral over the last couple of years. Max used to work for the network but was relegated to the television minor leagues because he couldn?t control his temper on live TV. His boss, Lou Potts (Prosky) seems content with small news stories and doesn?t really have any desire to take on controversial stories likely to improve ratings. Lou gets nervous whenever Max shows ambition, so decides to calm him down by sending him down to the local museum to do a ?feel-good? interview. The museum is in financial trouble and has had to sack staff in order to cut costs.
While at the museum Max has the misfortune to meet Sam Baily (John Travolta). Sam is an ex security guard at the museum. He has lost his job as part of the cut backs and is trying to persuade his boss to give him his job back. His plea doesn?t have any impact on his hardened manager, so Sam loses his patience and turns to plan B. Plan B however, is more drastic and involves guns and dynamite. In a moment of madness Sam closes all the exits to the museum, and takes his boss and other visitors to the museum (a group of school children) hostage. Things go from bad to worse for Sam when he accidentally shoots his fellow security guard.
Max sees the hostile events from the gent?s toilet and immediately contacts his novice camerawoman who is located outside the museum. Keen to boost his career Max sees the hostage situation as an exclusive and decides to broadcast events live from within the museum. Max?s hiding place and broadcast is soon discovered by Sam, which infuriates the hostage taker even further. Sam starts to wish he hadn?t been so rash and realises that Max is willing to help defuse the situation. Max obviously acts sympathetically, but is actually only thinking about how he can further his own
career. Max cunningly sets up an exclusive interview with Sam and also acts as his negotiator. As the siege escalates, it becomes clear that Sam is not going to be able escape unpunished. Outside the museum there is a huge media presence and crowd. At first Sam is perceived by to the public to be an innocent guy, who made a silly mistake, but as incidents unfold he quickly becomes unpopular.
Mad City is an extremely clever film which deals with some original ideas. As mentioned at the beginning of this review Mad City was one of the first films to deal with characters acting rashly under extreme pressure. Well, in this movie Sam?s world seems destroyed when he loses his job. He realises that he can no longer support his family financially and makes a rash decision in the museum. Another area that Mad City deals with well is how the media can influence matters. Max is a clever TV reporter and knows exactly how to influence Sam?s decisions. He prolongs the siege because he knows it will make him more high profile and possibly bring about a job promotion. However it all backfires towards the end of the movie, which makes interesting viewing.
I know of a few people who dislike this movie. They don?t know whether to take it seriously and this is mostly due to the silly scenes which are occasionally shown throughout the movie. Mad City is supposed to be a thought-provoking movie but sometimes it goes over the top a little. A prime example of this is when we are shown shots of the crowd outside the museum. I can understand that Sam would have some supporters, but the film shows people selling T-shirts (saying ?Sam Our Hero!?) and merchandise with Sam plastered all over it. This to me seems a little unrealistic as the police would have cordoned off the area and certainly would not have allowed the area to look like a fun fair! There are other moments like this in the movie which don?t really belong.
The two main actors make this movie a success.
John Travolta plays Sam, the simple and na´ve hostage taker. This is quite a difficult role for Travolta to play because there are so many different sides to the character of Sam. He can sometimes be quite violent, but at the same time caring and gentle, as can be seen when he looks after some of he child hostages. Travolta does a good job and shows another side to his acting. Mad City was his first film after action movie ?Face Off?, so it shows that he can play a wide variety of roles. Shame he didn?t pass up the opportunity to star in ?Battlefield Earth?! Dustin Hoffman has the more straight forward job of playing Max. The character of Max is supposed to be selfish and dislikeable and Hoffman carries this off with supreme confidence. If it wasn?t for these two actors some of the unrealistic scenes would have been farcical.
Mad City is an odd film because depending on the viewer?s mood, it could be taken the wrong way. Personally I think it is meant to be a serious thought-provoking movie but some of the areas it deals with are a little over the top. Overall though it is a well acted, intense thriller which should keep you entertained for a couple of hours.