REVIEW: Run This Town runs out of steam halfway through

This is a film surrounded by good intentions and incredible talent, and the fact it never quite comes together is one of the largest disappointments so far this year.

This story of young journalists and city hall staffers on the periphery trying to decipher and deal with the scandalous, ever-popular Toronto mayor Rob Ford could have been an incredible film, but a troubling, shaky narrative derails it.

The fact this is a debut feature from writer-director Ricky Tollman really shows, as the narrative never quite hits a cohesive stride. And yet, there are memorable moments here that will be worth your time.

The miscast Ben Platt just doesn’t strike the right tone as the young, enterprising journalist, but what he does capture is the uncertainty and fear inherent in the profession these days. Much more equipped is ever-incredible supporting actor Scott Speedman as his boss, and Jennifer Ehle as the paper bigwig.

Disney made a name of Mena Massoud — but the Aladdin star can’t find work. Maybe the Canadian actor’s convincing, layered performance as “special assistant” to Mayor Ford will win him some notice. He sure caught my eye here.

So did Nina Dobrev, for that matter, shedding her Vampire Diaries skin and turning in the best performance in the film as a harassed employee on Ford’s staff.

Damian Lewis, impeccably cast as Ford, chews the scenery, but the makeup job chews his face in such a strange, grotesque manager that one wishes they’d spent all their money to get the makeup department from 2018’s Oscar-nominated Vice. His flabby cheeks distract from what would otherwise be an intense supporting turn.

Run This Town can be involving and interesting, and it has talent to spare. It’s just unfortunate with all they bring to the table, they can’t save first-time director Tollman’s unsure debut.

2.5/5 Stars

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