As a born and bred Chicagoan (and one who still lives in the area), it’s always a treat to note movies and television shot in our beautiful city. Chicago’s colorful history of power politics and crime (and the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive), make an interesting setting for Fox's new crime series The Chicago Code. Created by Rockford, Illinois native Shawn Ryan (The Shield), the series explores the seamier side of our fair city, far from the lights of Michigan Avenue (although we do get glimpses) and into the confluence of politics and crime.
Chicago makes a great backdrop for any movie or television series. We have one of the most beautiful skylines in the world: a mix of old and new—from the elaborate architecture of the Wrigley Building along Wacker Drive to the monolithic alabaster of the Amoco Building; the stateliness of the Water Tower and Marshall Fields (I still refuse to call it Macy’s) to the sleek blackness of the John Hancock building and Sears…Willis…Tower.
Our shoreline stretches from south to north lined with parkland; expensive apartments, homes and condos have to live on the other side of Lake Shore Drive. The Chicago River (dyed Kelly green for St. Patrick’s Day) slices the downtown as it heads for Lake Michigan, giving the city a series of functional, yet appealing bridges and the dual level Wacker Drive (claustrophobic feeling Lower Wacker is a favorite for movie car chases, used to great effect in 2009’s The Dark Knight).
But Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, even beyond the southside-northside divide. There are Polish neighborhoods, Irish neighborhoods, Indian neighborhoods, Jewish neighborhoods, African-American neighborhoods, Hispanic neighborhoods. There are neighborhoods that reflect the culture of the Greek, or Chinese, or German immigrants who populated the city. And the cultures sometimes clash (and I don’t mean just over Cubs vs. Sox). And it is in these neighborhoods that the heart of The Chicago Code resides.
The hero of the story is a Polish-American cop named Jarek Wysocki (Played by Australian actor Jason Clarke). Wysocki is a bit of a maverick, whose brother had been killed in the line of action. With an uncompromising reputation and a slight chip on his shoulder, he goes through partners quickly. Wysocki's integrity is legendary, and it's made him no friends among the rank and file, some of whom are not so squeaky clean. He is disliked and disdained by a lot of veterans, but he's a good cop from a generations-long police family.
Early on in episode one, Wysocki is recruited by the new Police Chief Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals), a friend and one-time lover. They share a common distaste for corruption and fat cats, so they seek out together to nail a corrupt alderman who seems to be deeply involved in the Chicago crime scene, Alderman Ronin Gibbons
(Delroy Lindo). A powerful political force in the city, and Colvin's mentor, Gibbons thinks he can control the young female top cop to his own ends. But quite to the contrary, Colvin believes herself beholden to no one but the citizens of Chicago. And herein lies one of the series major dramatic conflicts.