The Hurricane Movie Review

If anyone even dares to hum the lyrics of the Bob Dylan song, I'm going to have to kill them. All right. So this is an empty threat. I have zero way of knowing whether or not you are humming the Bob Dylan song just to spite me, but please don't do it anyway. After seeing The Hurricane, I have Bob Dylan stuck in my head.

In fact, Bob Dylan and Denzel Washington are about the only things stuck in my head after that movie... that and enormous sense of racial injustice and a newfound respect for the residents of Toronto.

The Hurricane is the story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, welterweight champion who was wrongfully imprisoned for a triple-murder that he didn't commit. To clear this up to younger readers, this actually happened. Although the wrongfully-imprisoned genre film is terribly passé at this point in time, having a falsely accused man in prison is something worth making into a movie again.

The question, walking into The Hurricane, was whether making a "wrongfully accused" movie is a viable option after the genre has been sucked dry by fictional (or semi-fictional) counterparts such as The Fugitive, U.S. Marshals, Double Jeopardy, and Wrongfully Accused.

To its credit, The Hurricane shows us that such a film is possible.

Most of the credit in this case goes to Denzel Washington, who I now am absolutely sure deserved the Golden Globe he won for Best Actor. Washington is in flawless form here, pushing every emotional button in the book. He is able to take a character that would otherwise be contrived and make it into something new and impressive. The film is carried squarely on Washington's shoulders, and the result is a potentially terrible film is turned into something that jerks a tear or two out of even the most heartless of viewer (or critic).

The big flaws in the movie come in the form of the writers, who are dead-set convinced that the story of Rubin Carter (which, face it, would have been better as a documentary) needed a little extra oomph. To add said oomph, the film takes poetic license and creates a corrupt cop (Den Heyada) out of thin air. To add even more oomph, the film takes more poetic license with the do-good Canucks (Schrieber, Unger, and Hannah), who are portrayed as the major detectives of the film. Being as the film is more based-on-a-true story than actual biopic, the Canucks are placed in a large degree of artificial danger from a possibly imaginary web of New Jersey corruption stretching all of the way up to Christie Todd Whitman (all right, to whomever was New Jersey's governor at the time). We know the Garden State is screwy, but not that screwy.

Said poetic license, contrived events and characters, make The Hurricane terribly difficult for anyone who is an admirer of Rubin Carter to take easily. Scorsese fans, on the other hand, will be undoubtedly pissed by the Raging Bull knock-offs that pose as fight scenes.

In the end, however, when all is said and done, Denzel Washington has made pearls out of swine. Without Denzel Washington, The Hurricane would just be another contrived prison-drama, whether or not it actually happened.

Coulda been a contender.


Comments

The Hurricane Rating

" Good "

Rating: R, 1999

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