Cinema Review: Run This Town | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, September 19th, 2020  

Run This Town

Studio: Oscilloscope / Quiver
Directed by Ricky Tollman

Mar 04, 2020 Web Exclusive
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Quick tip for anyone making a movie that features a crack smoking mayor: don’t wait half an hour to let said degenerate grace the screen.

Unfortunately Run This Town, a new drama about the height of Toronto’s manic Rob Ford era, gives its most famous character short shrift. Instead, the movie squanders much of its running time on a sulky recently graduated reporter (Ben Platt) trying to break the news about Ford’s most scandalous deed, and the slightly less amateurish city hall staff tasked with managing the volatile mayor.

The journalism storyline is a clearly cheeky homage to All the President’s Men, and even has its own tense parking garage scene. And while Platt falls flat as a shallowly written novice gumshoe, audiences will enjoy his more seasoned co-stars like Scott Speedman (a Canadian heartthrob that broke through on Felicity, J. J. Abrams’ first TV foray at the turn of the century) and Jennifer Ehle (who won a BAFTA in 1995 for her turn in a BBC rendition of Pride and Prejudice). As Platt’s slyly cynical editors, they both breathe effortless believability into scenes that follow the movie’s stilted opening act. Indeed, that first quarter is dominated by the film’s younger cast members, including Nina Dobrev and Mena Massoud as Rob Ford staffers who do their best with the flimsy, oddly quip laden dialogue.

The call sheet’s clear standout is Damian Lewis as the hulking town leader. Fans of the lanky redheaded Brit’s famed turns on Homeland and Billions won’t recognize him this time, thanks to his somewhat authentic Canadian accent and more successful aping of Ford’s mannerisms. Of course the mounds of prosthetics and a clearly fake gut also obscure Lewis’ leading man good looks, but only amount to a Saturday Night Live sketch worthy imitation of the infamous politician, rather than a portrayal fit for a feature film (though his literally breathless efforts under all that silicon are laudable). 

Some latter end attempts to tie the movie’s half decade old events to today’s alt-right climate and #MeToo rise are commendable, if occasionally on the nose. But they can’t rescue Run This Town from its dull early acts.

Given Ford’s crackpipe escapades, this movie should’ve been anything but boring. 

Author rating: 4/10

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Average reader rating: 4/10


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