Mad City (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Costa Gavras|
|Produced by||Arnold Kopelson
|Screenplay by||Tom Matthews|
|Story by||Tom Matthews
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Edited by||Françoise Bonnot|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.
Village Roadshow Pictures (Australia)
|Running time||114 minutes|
|Box office||$10,561,038 (US)|
Mad City is a 1997 hostage thriller film written by Tom Matthews and Eric Williams, directed by Costa-Gavras, and starring Dustin Hoffman, John Travolta, Mia Kirshner, Alan Alda, Blythe Danner, Ted Levine, Raymond J. Barry, and Larry King. This is Costa-Gavras' first English-language film since Music Box (1989).
After being sacked from his job at a museum, former security guard Sam Baily returns to the place with a shotgun and dynamite and takes his former boss Mrs. Banks and a number of children (at the museum on a school field trip) as hostages.
Television journalist Max Brackett is in the museum using the restroom after an interview with the curator about financial difficulties. He becomes directly involved in the hostage situation, acting as Baily's intermediary to the outside world and the police.
Baily accidentally shoots a friend of his, Cliff, who's still working there as a security guard, sending him to the hospital. He later fires the weapon again, frightening the children and becoming more and more unstable as he takes caffeine pills to stay awake. Along with a young intern Laurie, Brackett reports the story exclusively on television, reviving his career. By being free to come and go, he negotiates with a national network and its star news anchorman, Kevin Hollander, with whom Brackett has an unhappy history.
Baily wants the police to let him return home to his wife and kids, refusing to accept that he's going to jail. Brackett, on the other hand, makes a deal rather than let Hollander have the story, prompting Hollander to publicly accuse Brackett of prolonging the crisis and endangering the children. Laurie then betrays Brackett, proving that, like him, she's willing to do whatever it takes to further her own career.
When his friend Cliff dies, Baily starts to realize he's lost everything. Baily and Brackett allow the situation to worsen until the police finally have had enough, issuing a five-minute ultimatum to Baily for release of the hostages. Baily lets the children go. He sends out Brackett to try to convince the police to put down their guns so he could personally usher out Baily. But rather than face prison and his wife Baily locks the museum doors on Brackett, who's outside trying to get the police to listen.
Brackett tries to get him to come out, but Baily ignores him. Brackett is unaware that Baily has decided to set off his explosives, committing suicide. The blast knocks Brackett off his feet and into the parking lot, sending debris everywhere. As reporters surround Brackett to ask about Baily, all he can say is, "We killed him," referring to how the media handled the situation.
- Dustin Hoffman as Max Brackett
- John Travolta as Sam Baily
- Mia Kirshner as Laurie Callahan
- Alan Alda as Kevin Hollander
- Ted Levine as Chief Lemke
- Robert Prosky as Lou Potts
- Bill Nunn as Cliff Williams
- Kyla Pratt as Kid
- Lucinda Jenney as Jenny
- William Atherton as Dohlen
- Richard Portnow as Brackett's Agent
- Raymond J. Barry as Dobbins
- Blythe Danner as Mrs. Banks
The film has a score of 36% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 28 reviews; on Metacritic, the film had a score of 45 out of 100 (mixed or average) based on 23 reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert noted Mad City is inspired by the film Ace in the Hole and gave the movie two stars (out of four), writing: "The movie knows what it wants to do, but lacks the velocity for lift-off."
In the United States, the film opened at #6 at the box office with an opening weekend gross of $4.6 million. It went on to gross $10.5 million.
- Official website
- Mad City at AllMovie
- Mad City at the Internet Movie Database
- Mad City at Rotten Tomatoes
- Mad City at Metacritic
- Mad City at Box Office Mojo