Bad City (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

An assistant DA is running for the big job against his boss and he sees an opportunity for political spin. A hooker has been killed in a high-profile murder. He wants two flexible police officers to solve the  crime just before the election, and to give him an immediate heads-up for photo ops. The cops, always looking for their own angle, figure "why not?" After all, this could give them a DA in their pocket! They round up one of their usual suspects, frame him for the murder, and lock him up.

Meanwhile, on the same night the cops are caging their pigeon, the very same assistant DA gets into a big fight with his alcoholic wife and kills her. So who does he call? The police? An ambulance? Ghostbusters? Not on your life. He calls his spin doctor. You think that's cynical? What until you hear what the political consultant recommends. He says, "You don't need spin any more. Somebody else just killed your wife. You are a grieving widower. Your polls will go through the roof." The consultant advises his client to wrap his wife's body up, dump it in a slum somewhere, and make it look like she was murdered by someone else.

Done, and done.

Only one problem.

Not knowing exactly what the cops have done, the DA makes it appear that his wife was killed by the same guy who killed the hooker. Unfortunately for him, the two cops were so efficient that they had already booked and locked up their patsy for the hooker's murder by the time the assistant DA's wife became the guy's alleged second victim.


You see the problem here? How does the DA get out of this one? His wife couldn't have been killed by the guy in stir. He can't admit that the guy in stir has been framed. If the public is to believe that the guy in stir killed the hooker, then there have to be two murderers. Why can't he just blame a copycat? Because in order to make it clear that the two murders were committed by the same person, the DA duplicated details of the first killing which were never released to the public.

Oh, he's in some deep doo-doo.

Meanwhile, you may remember that the guy in jail is just a patsy. Therefore the real killer of the hooker is still out there! When the real baddie emerges from the woodwork and starts to fit into the plot, things get extremely complicated. So what's the DA's plan to extricate himself from the trap he's fallen into? Well, you'll have to watch the movie to find that out. Despite appearances to the contrary, I haven't spoiled the film for you. The details above are all part of the set-up.

The characters in Bad City are all thoroughly corrupt, even the protagonists. In fact, there is no real protagonist. Two dirty cops are the closest the film comes to good guys. The most cynical thing of all in the script is that the people who figure out that the DA committed the murder never even consider punishing him for it. They only want to figure out how they can gain the most possible personal benefit from having his balls in their hands. The way to do that is to get the guy elected to a higher position, so they can have a more important man by the balls!

Bad City isn't a film of earth-shattering significance, but I don't think you'll regret watching it if you get the chance. I would say that this Chicago-based crime drama is an excellent movie by straight-to-vid standards but it didn't actually proceed straight to the DVD shelves. It had a very brief theatrical release in a few regional theaters under the name Dirty Work, and was in some theaters and festivals under an even earlier title, Political Animal. It must have played somewhere in Chicago because Roger Ebert reviewed it, as did the reviewer from the Trib. Irrespective of its actual distribution path, the film is quite watchable. The director is competent, there is some offbeat casting, and there are some good performances. I especially liked Lance Reddick (of The Wire and CSI: Miami) as an intense, corrupt cop who really wants to be a good person, but is trapped in a bad situation of his own making. In addition to the other positives, the film also has much more character depth than I've indicated in my summary, and the plot just keeps twisting as people keep trying to outmaneuver one another. There is enough going on that you shouldn't get bored!



  • no features
  • anamorphic widescreen transfer (and a pretty good one)



Meghan Maureen McDonough, as the murdered hooker, shows her breasts from several angles in the film's first scene.

The Critics Vote ...


The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C, a solid film, despite being a low-budget straight-to-vid.

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