Picks and Pans Review: City Hall

updated 02/19/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/19/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

Al Pacino, John Cusack, Danny Aiello, Martin Landau, Anthony Franciosa

In this New York City political thriller just oozing with cynicism, Pacino—still stuck, for some reason, in his blaring Scent of a Woman mode—turns up as a mayor with presidential aspirations. He is in the middle of greeting a Japanese dignitary when he learns that a Brooklyn boy has been killed by a stray shot during a cop-drug dealer gun battle. The ensuing uproar throws Pacino and his young deputy mayor, Cusack, into a tortuous controversy. It also exposes an old scandal involving a judge (Landau), a political boss (Aiello) and a Mafia family head (Franciosa).

Tension does indeed run high—at least until the whole thing fizzles out in a series of sputtering anticlimaxes, due possibly to the fact that four writers share credit for the story. Apparently, there was more emphasis on compromise than on mystery.

Excess volume notwithstanding. Pacino is adept enough. What brings more pleasure is watching Cusack, the best actor of his generation, get a substantial role, and the graceful comeback of Franciosa as the old Mafioso. (R)

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