City Hall

"Movie Magazine International" Review

(Air Date: Week Of 2/14/95)

By John A. Lavin

After viewing an advance screening of director Harold Becker's new film, "City Hall", I felt confused. While I saw a whole bunch of great stuff that makes "City Hall" a worthwhile movie experience, I just kept thinking that there was something missing. Uh, like a point!

"City Hall" is the story of a crusading New York City mayor and his go-getting, idealistic deputy. Al Pacino plays the mayor, and turns in a thoughtful, effective performance as he powers his way around town, inspiring his constituents. John Cusack is his right hand, a transplanted law student from Louisiana, and an absolute expert at "damage control" and practically all else that a right hand to the mayor does.

When a six year old boy is killed in the crossfire between an off duty police officer and a junior mob drug dealer, everything hits the fan. The press is screaming about city hall corruption, internal affairs is sniffing around, Bridget Fonda pops up and looks really perky, and the mob starts killing people. Cusack and Fonda begin to unravel the mystery of the cop's death, and discover corruption that touches a whole gaggle of high-ups, both in the mob, and out of it.

All of this sounds convoluted, but is actually pretty well crafted. The storyline drags at points, but maintains a fairly even pace that doesn't elicit yawns. The directorial style is standard crime melodrama stuff; lots of extreme close-ups of nervous, sweaty faces are framed by long shots of the city, filmed at all times of the day and night.

Copyright 1996 John A. Lavin

"Movie Magazine International" Movie Review Index

"Movie Magazine International" Home Page