City On A Hill Review

City On A Hill

by Michael Hogan |
Published on

This Showtime crime blue-collar Boston setting might well remind you of the early work of Ben Affleck and Matt DamonGood Will Hunting, The Town, even The Departed — so it’s no surprise to learn that the duo are credited as executive producers. So are the heavyweight pair of Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, whose previous TV collaboration Homicide: Life On The Street gives another clue about what to expect here.

The gritty, chewy thriller is set in the Charlestown neighbourhood in the early ’90s, when the streets were rife with violent villains but local law enforcement was plagued by widespread corruption and racism. The mighty Kevin Bacon is swaggeringly seedy as veteran FBI agent Jackie Rohr: an old-school operator whose hair pomade, whiskey breath and cigarette smoke you can almost smell through the screen. He forms a reluctant alliance with black lawyer Decourcy Ward (Straight Outta Compton’s Aldis Hodge), an “affirmative action hire” at the District Attorney’s office with ambitions to shake up the status quo.

Together this unlikely duo take on a crew of armed robbers led by simmering Frankie Ryan (Jonathan Tucker, resembling a young Robert Patrick). Across ten episodes, the sprawling case comes to upend the city’s entire justice system in a sea-change known as “The Boston Miracle”.

It’s a little labyrinthine, the female characters are tissue-thin and the sweary script strains under the weight of leaden exposition at times. However, it’s got The Wire-sized ambition and what Ward does with his eye at the end of episode one will make you reach for the rewind button, as will the head-spinning pre-credits twist.

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