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IN SHORT: For us grownups. [Not Rated. 103 minutes]
Apparently not submitted for MPAA rating (as of Labor Day), which means no newspaper will carry advertising for it and most television stations will ask for more...
The Hunting Party is one of those rare films that sneaks up on you -- at first we thought "there's nothing special here" -- and then things start to click into place and, come the Third Act you get some over-the-top suspense, in the classic style. But let us begin this review with the first words you see on the big screen:
Only the most ridiculous parts of this story are true.
So true. So, what the devil is Cranky talking about? We're talking about what used to be Yugoslavia. Home to the 1984 Winter Olympics. A lovely country destroyed by civil and religious war and now split into the countries of Serbia and Herzegovina and Bosnia. Those who are old enough already know the disaster that befell that area. Those that are too young may find reference in a school textbook. To be brief, most of The Hunting Party is set in a time five years past the end of the civil war, though at least one partisan leader, nicknamed The Fox (Ljubomir Kerekes) still leads citizens who want all Muslim presence in the area wiped out. The nickname isn't because the man is clever. It is his hunting preference. . . that is, since he stopped leading slaughter teams to take out the indigenous Muslim population
That being written, those out there with certain political views will not miss the screenplay's diss at ongoing (we must assume) attempts by our government to locate and destroy one Arab terrorist named bin Laden -- shut your internal rage machines off and concentrate on a different part of the world. We managed it. You can too <hint hint>
Historically, teevee news teams in war zones consist of two parts: the on-air reporter -- in this case Simon Hunt (Richard Gere) and a cameraman slash Kevlar vest substitute, which the film will explain as it introduces one Duck (Terrence Howard). Years under fire have pushed Hunt past the breaking point and, once he lets loose live with an obscenity that would make George Carlin proud, he is banished from network news. Duck is promoted up to the safe NY studio of net anchorman (James Brolin), running First Camera.
Five years after peace in Bosnia was achieved, the new news team heads back in country to do some on site reporting. The one remaining story? What happened to numerous, still wanted war criminals -- including The Fox? Nobody knows . . . except mister Hunt, who mysteriously appears in Duck's hotel room and dangles the story of the century in front of him. And off they go . . . Well, not exactly. Duck's got a girlfriend (Joy Bryant) "waiting in Greece" and a reporting newbie named Benjamin (Jesse Eisenberg), in tow. The kid is the son of a net veep, so there you have that, too.
Now guess which one of the three is a washed up hack, desperate for another potential grab at the proverbial brass ring. Now sit back and watch all them dreams come true, in ways most unexpected and dangerous as Duck ditches his anchorman boss and the trio head off into the wild, first checking in with the local UN contact Boris (Mark Ivanir). Boris flat out assumes that these "journalists" are a poorly disguised CIA hit squad -- and that poor disguise (sic) comes in real handy when the target hears about it and decides to take action.
Gere cruises -- heck, he's made a career out of making hard acting work look like cruising; he's his usual smooth operator self. Howard and Eisenberg do all the real work but it's the story which makes it fun to sit for this movie. Of course, we agree with the politics (being a disgruntled New Yorker and all)
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Hunting Party , he would have paid . . .
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