"The Hurricane"
Review written by: Alex Sandell

Denzel Washington hoping
to score a knockout victory
come Oscar night. 

What's the story?

On the verge of winning the middleweight boxing title, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (Denzel Washington), and a companion, were arrested for, and wrongfully accused of, murdering three people in New Jersey.  Both men were sentenced to three life terms in prison (it was that whole "nine lives" scare that cats put into us back in the sixties), and all seemed to be lost, until Carter wrote a book declaring his innocence.  The book was published, and grabbed the attention of an entire nation.  Everyone from middle-school teachers to famous folk singers pleaded his case; yet, nothing was done.  Years later,  Lesra Martin (Vicellous Reon Shannon), an American boy living in Canada with three social activist guardians, got a hold of Carter's book, and mounted a full-time campaign to prove the ex-boxer's innocence.  Thanks in large part to Lesra Martin's efforts, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was able to walk away from the prison he spent nearly 20 years in, as a free man.  

So how is it? (Get to the point, already)

Due to a script which tries far too hard to show how "naughty" the bad guys are, and how noble the good ones can be, The Hurricane is a film that never quite lives up to its potential.  These characters are far too one-dimensional to be believable.  The sinister villain of the film, a corrupt law enforcement official played by Dan Hedaya, is so abominable, I kept expecting a couple of horns to pop out of his skull, as he tilted his head back to let out a contemptible laugh.  At the same time, Lesra Martin, and his group of Canadian merry men, are so virtuous, so totally pure, I wondered when woodland creatures would lovingly surround them, causing them to break into song.  The only character in the film who seems to have any genuine moral conflict is Denzel Washington's Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.  It's a pity the screenwriter (Sam Chaiton) took such a black and white (no pun intended) approach with his character depictions, because, without this misstep, The Hurricane would have had everything going for it. 

The cast of The Hurricane is superb.  The directing, by Norman Jewison (Agnes of God, Moonstruck), keeps the two hour plus movie moving at a fast pace, and doesn't give us time to get bored.  When it isn't annoying you with its simplistic character depictions, even the screenplay can be remarkably compelling.   

I will recommend this movie, but with far less enthusiasm than I would have, if it had taken the time to make the true story it was based on seem a little more real.  I cannot overlook the broad stokes The Hurricane ends up painting its characters with.  The movie almost starts feeling like an advertisement for something much better . . . possibly the two books that it was based on.  

What are you selling us here???

That damn Bob Dylan song that you will never, never, NEVER get out of your mind ever again, once you've heard it.

If it won an Oscar, what would it be?

"Movie with that damn Bob Dylan song that you will never, never, NEVER get out of your mind ever again, once you've heard it." - The Hurricane

On a scale of 1-10?


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Text (Copyright) 1999 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. If you copy this, without my permission, I'll send you to prison, where you'll be forgotten by everyone . . . even Bob Dylan.

Photo Copyright 1999 Universal [All Rights Reserved]

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