Local opening date: 9/21/2007
Reviewed by Diane Carson
Many of us film
fans are partial to dramatic films that integrate real political scenarios and
address injustice in their fictional stories. I think of the Last King of Scotland and Hotel
Rwanda, for example, and the upcoming Trade
which exposes the repulsive international sex trafficking. Writer/director
Richard Shepard The Hunting Party is
in that group, taking the hunt for infamous Bosnian war criminals as its
The story hangs on veteran, foolishly daring reporter Simon Hunt
(Richard Gere) and his cameraman called Duckie (Terrence Howard) as they pursue
the notorious killer called The Fox who ordered the rape and murder of numerous
Muslims. As our naïve young surrogate and some comic relief, son of a network
V.P., Benjamin tags along, wide eyed and disbelieving. Palpable tension and a
brisk pace hook us on the story shot partially on location in Croatia.
narration by Duck establishes his relationship with Simon in many previous war
spots: Somalia, Iraq, El Salvador. When Simon answers
several live TV questions in a shockingly unprofessional way, he's fired and
Duck is promoted upstairs to studio work. Happenstance takes Duck back to Bosnia and the Republic of Serpsa
where Simon reappears, hooking him on insiders' information and a tantalizing
chance to interview The Fox. The chase is on.
Based on real
incidents, The Hunting Party is
weakened politically by its focus on Hunt's revenge motive, revealed as events
unfold, and the foregrounding of some truly silly confrontation scenes,
especially a couple bar episodes. Such distractions push the meritorious
indictments of appallingly wan attempts to capture war criminals too far into
the background. Similarly, a mocking tone undermines what would be better
served as straight-forward information, inexcusable at face value, including
CIA and other US
actions. I'm thinking of the opening titles that announce, "Only the most
ridiculous part of this story are true" and some comments before the closing
credits. Just seeing the 1984 Olympic Village and the Sarajevo buildings riddled with bullets and
explosions will continue to disgust any aware viewer.
The Hunting Party is professionally
done-well shot, editing, and acted by Gere and Howard, in particular. It makes
a stunning change for writer/director Richard Shepard from his hilarious The Matador. And even with its
compromises, it's refreshing to have a high caliber film not flinch from harsh
political commentary. Primarily in English but with some Serbian with English
subtitles. At area theatres.
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