The Hurricane (1999) / Drama
MPAA Rated: R for language and some violence
Running Time: 146 min.
Cast: Denzel Washington, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Liev Schreiber, Deborah Unger, Dan Hedaya
Director: Norman Jewison
Screenplay: Armyan Bernstein, Dan Gordon
Review published June 14, 2000
This is the inspiring sorta-true-story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (Washington, The Bone Collector), a man who could have been the middleweight champion if not for being convicted and sentenced to three life sentences for murder. Maintaining his innocence all the way, Rubin does his best to cope with being wrongfully imprisoned and soon becomes a hardened shell of a man, until a young boy that went to Canada to live in a commune with some people who want to educate him becomes inspired by his autobiography and contacts him. The ex-boxer and the boy form a strong bond and soon the boy and his guardians put all their efforts into freeing Rubin.
Yet another powerhouse performance by Denzel Washington, who was one of two actors who didn't deserve to lose to Kevin Spacey for the Best Actor Oscar (Russell Crowe deserved it, in my opinion...though I concede Spacey's excellence, it just wasn't as great as these two). Sadly Denzel garnered the only nomination in what is a truly quality piece of work, with an especially terrific directorial performance by the always reliable Norman Jewison (Moonstruck, Agnes of God).
Perfectly paced and compellingly written, it's quite a compelling story deserving of big screen attention. Granted there's a bit of playing fast and loose with the facts, but at least they admit there's some fiction in the beginning notes, with the biggest being the fictional character of Della Pesca (Hedaya, Dick) as the cop determined to take down the Hurricane at all costs. Though flawed as a biography, it's still terrific as a movie and would be worth watching even if the film were total fiction. Deeply moving stuff.
©2000 Vince Leo