City Hall (1996)

It started with a shootout on a rainswept street and ended in a scandal that shattered New York.

The accidental shooting of a boy in New York leads to an investigation by the Deputy Mayor, and unexpectedly far-reaching consequences.

Being a huge fan of Al Pacino (from the likes of 'Heat', the 'Godfather' movies, and 'Dog Day Afternoon' especially) and having had a huge crush on Bridget Fonda ('Single White Female', anyone?) back in the day (Peter Fonda's famous daughter was named 85th sexiest star in film history, and Mrs. Danny Elfman hasn't been involved in film, unfortunately, since 2002), I was hugely disappointed in this film, especially since I had loved director Harold Becker's previous 'Sea of Love', which also starred Pacino. The first half was decent and involving, but it kind of slid off the rails, interest-wise for me, the rest of the way and got too talky and uninspired.
I don't really know if the problem was with the script or its direction. I know I'm not the greatest John Cusack fan in the world (I find he's much better in comedy, like his sister Joan), but he had pretty good co-stars, whose talents were basically wasted, in Martin Landau, Anthony Franciosa and Danny Aiello (these guys were BORN for these roles and films, so on paper, this should have really worked out well). I had always wondered why this film had bombed so miserably, and now I know why. In cases like this, more should have been done to alter the story arc, just some basic tweaks, to make it more suspenseful and/or (though I usually balk at such 'Hollywood' tendencies) some romantic tension (a beauty such as Fonda's was misused--they may as well have hired someone else). All in all, a wasted opportunity that's worth a look if you like dramas about corruption--just don't go in with big expectations, and don't bother with a rewatch.

Columbia Pictures, Castle Rock Entertainment by Harold Becker, Ken Lipper, Paul Schrader, Nicholas Pileggi, Bo Goldman.
Stars: Al Pacino, John Cusack, Bridget Fonda, Danny Aiello.

Genres: Drama, Thriller

Keywords: corruption undercover war on drugs mayor drug dealer presidential election undercover agent investigation police drugs

02/16/1996

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