In his first American film since Music Box (1990), the political perception of Greek filmmaker Costa-Gavras escapes him in a tired media critique that has very little fresh or illuminating to say about journalistic integrity or exploitation. Solid casting makes the film high on the must-see list, with leads John Travolta and Dustin Hoffman delivering compelling but never maudlin performances as men on opposite sides of a breaking news frenzy who are oddly linked by a fervent desire to get their old jobs back. It's a shame that their labor is pretty much wasted in a noble but failed "statement" picture that rails against the same societal ills lacerated by Billy Wilder and Kirk Douglas more than four decades earlier in Ace in the Hole (1951). When he turns his inquisitive mind and keen insight to issues less exhaustively examined, Costa-Gavras is a bold and fearless artist, indispensable in an age of weak-kneed conformists, but Mad City represents less than his best.
by Karl Williams review