Get Out of My Way
Not all biographical films on politicians are made equal. Some try to tell a sprawling tale of someone's political life, such as Oliver Stone with his Nixon and W., while others capture a momentous slice of an historical event, such as Roger Donaldson's Thirteen Days which was gripping from start to end. Then there are those like Rudy, which tries to do both, but don't really get there, undoubtedly having the story mooted since Rudy Giuliani (James Woods) was the mayor of New York during the fateful event of September 11 2011, and having this film weave a glimpse of his political career culminating in that horrendous disaster.
Granted this had a limited budget, and in many ways that showed in the film, having some scenes crafted in sparse studios, although looking like a million dollars when Robert Dornhel, whose experience and filmography point to a lot of made for television films which this one also belonged to, had deliberately opted for the documentary look and feel for the event of September 11. Everything else looked indoors and not on location, removing that sense of authenticity of filming it all in the Big Apple.
There's also very little on his political and professional career before Mayorship, and what I thought was a very interesting bit in his life during his Attorney General days as he locked horns with the mafia, was grossly glossed over, which was a pity because there's so much narrative potential there to be explored, but I guess writer Stanley Weiser, who based this film on the book by Wayne Barrett, didn't find it interesting enough for a big screen treatment. Much instead is preferred to focus on the man's incredibly bad temper behind closed doors, demonstrating that Giuliani is a man who doesn't mince his words, and shoots very fast from the hip without due care whether it'll hurt anyone at all with his pointed, loud barbs.
With 9/11 stock footage mixed with its own documentary presentation, the story unfolds in flashbacks, as we glimpse into Rudy's marriage to newscaster Donna Hanover (Penelope Ann Miller) who had once interviewed him and begun a whirlwind romance, before his suspected infidelities and indiscretion led to breakdowns in both his marriage and almost always threatening his political career, isolating him from strong, key advisers who don't quite see eye to eye with his blind trust of his communications director Cristyne Lategano (Michelle Nolden). I suppose Robert Dornhelm prefers to tell the age old story of how the strong almost always fall prey to the advances of the fairer sex, and in some ways become the seeds to their downfall, in more ways than one.
James Woods puts in a riveting performance as the go-getter in the titular character, but ultimately got let down by the weak narrative that didn't get to dig deeper into what made the man, skimming only on the surface and focused on his anger management issues. Though you have to admit he's quite at his element when he's Rudy the warrior battling his detractors and those who would oppose him or his ideals. Supporting cast didn't outshine Woods in his role, and that may be attributed to the more caricature like treatment the supporting characters had to deal with since a biopic that's about 90 minutes long doesn't leave a lot of room for the spotlight to be shared with others.
For a man who was to provide a leadership beacon in what would be one of the most tragic terrorist attacks in human history, Rudy had all the potential to paint a more complex, detailed picture of just who the man was, someone whom most had seen on their television screens in the aftermath of that attack, but you're likely to come out from this just a wee bit more knowledgeable about the man himself, if at all, no thanks to its summarizing of key milestones in the man's life, and the indecision to just want to focus on an episode, or be a little bit more ambitious to cover a whole lot of ground.
The Code 3 DVD by Innoform Media is a bare bones presentation of the film in an anamorphic widescreen transfer with audio in its original English track in Dolby Digital 5.1 or stereo. Subtitles are available in Mandarin only. Scene selection is over 10 chapters, and there are no extras.