The Hurricane (1999) Poster

(1999)

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9/10
Unexpectedly Great Movie
kmsairam19 February 2001
I wasn't going to comment, but after reading some of the negative comments, I felt I must. I "waited for the video" for this movie because a movie about boxing didn't seem interesting. But that's just the thing. It's not about boxing. So if you're thinking you're going to see Raging Bull, you're not. There are a few boxing scenes, but they only serve to move the story along.

I have seen this movie more than once. The first time I was touched by the underlying theme of the movie, which was in my opinion, love conquering hate and injustice. Then I watched it again. I realized Denzel did a superb job. It WAS NOT a "typical Denzel role." He convincingly played Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, raised full of hate for and distrust of white people. When he goes to prison for the murder, he does an excellent performance showing the different personalities in his head, as well as showing how his inner spiritual journey transformed him. Any good movie shows the hero growing and changing. And Denzel again does this well towards the end of the movie, after befriending Lazarus and the Canadians. My favorite line which to me sums up the entire movie is when they're waiting to hear the judge's verdict and Rubin tells Lazarus, "Hate got me in here. But love's gonna bust me out."

I don't know much about the real Rubin Carter or the details of the case. What I found compelling about the movie was the fact that some people - be they white or black - can harbor such hatred for another person (I'm referring to Della Pesca's hatred toward Rubin). Another thing that got me was the friendship and love between Rubin and Lesra and the whole message of examining the higher principle of truth for which the law was meant to serve. It's just one of those movies that makes you think. Yeah, some of the writing is "just OK" in places, but the theme of the movie is wonderful and I think Denzel gave an Oscar worthy performance.

I gave this a 9 out of 10.
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good old-fashioned entertainment
fiennes116 January 2000
Jewison's film is an old-fashioned biopic, complete with pivotal backstory, voiceover narration, and a character who enters the protagonist's life and changes it immeasurably. It's one of those stand-up-and-cheer movies where everyone seems to be against the hero, but above all odds (and with more than a little help from some of his friends), he rises above The System and gets his belated due. It's an oft-used scenario, with many scenes that could easily have been taken from Jewison's other films A SOLDIER'S STORY or IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT. Yet despite the familiarity of the storyline, I'll be damned if I wasn't choking back tears of elation at the movie's triumphant conclusion. It's a masterful piece of filmmaking that proves Norman Jewison's skill as a director, as he transcends the cliche-bound script and, with the help of Washington and company, makes it a powerful entity all its own.

As the Hurricane, Denzel Washington proves he is one of the best actors (if not THE best) in the business today. He can run the gamut from cold hatred to hearty laughter like few others can. He brings dignity and class to every one of his pictures (he was the only thing worth watching in THE BONE COLLECTOR). Here, he makes you FEEL every single thing he's feeling. In times of righteous indignation, you feel morally outraged alongside him. When he's at his most vulnerable, you can feel your throat constricting and your eyes watering. He has an uncanny knack for reaching into your soul and making you part of the picture itself; it's almost as if he's channelling the viewer while acting. Other actors delight in wowing the audience with grand theatrics and histrionics, but neglect to make the audience care; Denzel is usually soft-spoken and low-key, but always holds your attention.

In summary, THE HURRICANE was one of the most exhilarating motion picture experiences I've had all year. Norman Jewison directs with a deft surehandedness reminiscent of his late 1960s/early 1970s glory years, Denzel Washington delivers perhaps the most awe-inspiring performance of the year, and the audience goes home happy and feeling good about themselves and the world. What more could be asked for?
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10/10
An incredible film, with superb acting
rosie-5426 January 2000
Denzel Washington is so convincing as Rubin Carter that one forgets that he is, indeed, an actor playing a role. From the beginning to the end, Denzel is perfect. The film made me think about how poverty and prejudice can ruin a person's life when misfortune, such as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, visits. I didn't think that I could possibly like a movie that I already knew so much about. With boxing in it, yet! But when Denzel received the Golden Globe Award, I felt I had to see it. What a moving experience! Anyone who enjoys superb acting and a story with a rewarding, emotional ending should not miss this film.
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Denzel Deserved an Oscar
les69692 August 2011
I am not going to get into details regarding how true an account this is or not. I have read a lot that seems to indicate he was guilty and others that he was innocent, both accounts seeing to contradict themselves. I guess we may never really know, but as someone who believes that racism infects a lot of society including organisations like Sporting bodies and the police I can well believe that being black would not guarantee a fair trial. However I also find it hard to believe that Mr Carter was as peaceful a person as depicted in this film. But this is down to the way the film was written and directed and in no way detracts from a truly remarkable piece of acting by Mr Denzel Washington. It seems in every part he plays, you believe that he IS that character and this film was no exception. In the boxing scenes or the prison scenes and in every scene you believe that you are watching Rubin 'The Hurricane' Carter. A truly outstanding performance.
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2/10
Inaccurate at best, delusional and disrespectful at worst
torr5918 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
If this movie was about a fictional character, the movie could stand on its own and be judged objectively. Unfortunately for the viewer, the movie is based on "facts" that are shaded very unfairly toward Ruben Carter. Many of the smaller facts were disregarded (Carter was NOT number one contender at the time of the murders, there is no proof at all that he saved a friend from a child molester in his youth), but some of the larger facts, like apparently being robbed of a decision to Joey Giardello because of "racist" judges, is inexcusable to those of us who have seen the fight on tape, and completely disrespectful to Giardello. Why Hollywood feels the need to make a hero out of someone who, at best, was in trouble and around trouble much more than any normal person should be (was arrested multiple times for beating women) is strange to me. Ruben Carter was never, by viewing his actions in the 60's and even now, when he refuses to speak to his son, a person that people can look up to. Everyone knows that Jewison can direct, and Washington can act, but why they chose this story as their vehicle is beyond me. Is Hollywood so much in need of a black hero that they need to bend the truth in all of their bio pics to make them believable? (Heres a suggestion How about Denzel playing a movie about himself? Now thats inspirational) Based on all of the inaccuracies in the movie, I would suggest passing on this one.
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9/10
Superb performance...
prateek426118 April 2008
I don't really know why people cannot talk without putting terms as "he did it" while thinking about this movie. How racially charged or challenged were those times has been clearly talked about, filmed and factually corrected. Literature, personalities and even a simple man can confirm to those facts and we can really put an end to who did it...or he did it!!! The movie marks the most stellar performance from Denzel Washington as he portrays the character "Hurricane". What surprised and confirmed my earlier thoughts about people rating this movie are that an awful lot of movies in here have better rating than this movie....and the confirmation is that ratings do not matter This movie stands out and lets you feel the passion and focus of a man...not born under normal circumstances but freed under great conditions. I think I am confident enough to say about this movie....if you haven't seen this movie then it doesn't really matter to you what cinema can be and what cinema possibly can create.

Forget the ratings....I think when you're done seeing it, you would decide for yourself what I am trying to say here. Where is the Oscar....ohh did we miss it??? Gladly so.
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4/10
biased account of a "factual" event
marie_baie_des_anges16 October 2000
Warning: Spoilers
When I saw this movie I heard all the hype, and I heard how people said that Denzel deserved the Oscar alongside his Golden Globe and I believed he must have done an outstanding job considering Kevin Spacey was excellent. I was wrong. I realize that people say this not to anger the African American community (if they are not African Americans themselves). I always hear complaints on how African Americans are never nominated and how they should have won. Sometimes this is true (not as much nowadays) because Whoppi Goldberg should have won best actress for The Color Purple and the movie should have won best picture. The only reason this movie was so blown up the way it was, is because people see a movie about the (*SEMI-SPOILER*) hardships of an African American during a very racist time period and they automatically label it as a masterpiece.

Denzel Washington is an outstanding actor, but his role in this movie did not affect me whatsoever. I was bored with him in the movie, and his acting here was quite similar to his role in Malcolm X but not as good. The audience is supposed to leave believing this man, Rubin Carter, is a saint. People left the movies worshipping this man, this hero, and they went out and bought his book, making this hero of a man rich.

*SPOILERS* This movie tells the tale of a man who spent the majority of his life in prison mainly for crimes he did not commit. Of course the crimes he did commit (stealing mostly) was only to survive, nothing more. People felt sorry for him, even though the drug dealers and thieves probably amounted to as much for the same reasons but are looked down upon in society. Everything in this movie tries to portray this man as a saint (except for the obvious infidelity he had towards his wife and the aggression he showed the other man when he met his wife) but why wouldn't it-after all, it is his point of view. I do not like movies (especially Hollywood interpretations) that are based on "true" stories because they usually distort the "true" parts into something else, something not so true. This was his point of view and a Hollywood construction, yet everyone believed it was the truth unquestionably. Well I researched his past a bit before making any assumptions, and he was a very violent man. Not only that, there is still a possibility that he did murder those people. If you do not believe me, search for him on the internet, and read the articles some people have of him. The boxing match he claimed to have won so easily, was actually won by his opponent Joey Giardello and there are tapes to prove it. Besides that, there are many twisted and purposely left out facts in this movie. The supporting cast were the nicest people I have ever seen on the face of the Earth and their "nice and perfect" persona looked difficult to keep up.

This movie was a Hollywood version of yet another unfortunate true story that is still left to be told truthfully. Denzel's acting is stale, and the supporting cast's Mickey Mouse attitudes are annoying. The movie also begins very slow paced and is boring.
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6/10
There's another side to the story...
Voikkari3 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers
There might be *SPOILERS* ahead...

The movie itself is a solid Hollywood picture, but after reading some comments and checking out info about the case, I felt confused. First of all, I'm still not sure if Carter and Artis committed these murders, but there seems to be a lot of documents and articles which proves they did. I'm not going to go to details here, but check out for starters www.graphicwitness.com/carter if you are interested. One example: In movie Carter is sent to jail as a boy for stabbing a man implied to be a pedophile. In reality, he stabbed somebody in the face with a beer bottle while robbing them.

One thing I don't understand is why they changed the facts so much in this movie and still this was marketed as based on true story. This might have been a good movie if they'd just make it completely fictional, but probably it wouldn't have sold as much. The championship fight scene seems also to be completely wrong, (from the Herald Sun) The Hurricane typically claims racist boxing judges robbed him, but every sportswriter who covered the fight agreed he was beaten by a better man. On the other hand, if they'd make this movie true to the facts, imo this movie would have been much more interesting.

I think it's a shame that Hollywood takes out a tragedy where 4 people were murdered and makes a disgrace towards them and their grieving friends and families by twisting the truth to make this movie better selling and getting more profit.

All in all, if ignoring this, the movie was pretty ok, although a bit too long (there was many scenes that could have been cut out) and some characters were just plain ridiculous, Canadians and of course Lt. Vincent Della Pesca, who was almost the opposite of the real detective). Denzel was good, maybe not Oscar nominee-good, but isn't the Oscars usually awarded to those who make most money, not those who have the most talent :)

One more quote from Herald Sun By ANDREW BOLT:

Of course, it's quite possible Carter is innocent. But is he still the right man to preach to us about reconciliation? While on bail for his second trial, he beat Carolyn Kelley, the (black) head of his Carter Defence Fund, so badly that she took a month to recover. ``He's Satan, and Satan can fool a lot of people,'' she says.
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3/10
This Is Not A True Story Or An Accurate Bio-Pic
Theo Robertson18 May 2005
The problem with this movie is summed up in the very first scene where Rubin " Hurricane " Carter fights Emile Griffith for the world welterweight championship in 1963 . You might be surprised when I point out that Carter never fought Griffith for a world championship in 1963 though he did fight for the middlewight championship a year later against champion Joey Giardello who beat him on points with plenty to spare . You might also be shocked to know that Carter was never in fact much more than an average fighter who was well past his prime when arrested for murder so why this movie is making out that Rubin Carter would have been a boxing great if it wasn't for being WRONGLY convicted of murder I have no idea . At the very best Carter was a very mediocre journeyman fighter at best . Robinson , Hagler , Ali or Hearns he was not

Oh yes he was WRONGLY convicted of murder and just to lay it on with a trowel a very early scene has the sadistic warder from THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION telling the wronged but noble Rubin to keep calm because he knows a cruel injustice has been done but there's nothing he can do to help . Meekly Rubin forgives his captor because that's who Rubin is - A noble forgiving paragon of humility , we're only three scenes into this movie and we're weeping tears for the guy , in fact you have to wonder why such a great guy was ever convicted of murder when he was a decorated war hero with a chest full of medals and we don't have to wait too long because it transpires that the cops are racist . We know they're racist because the arresting officer states " Your black ass is going down " , but that doesn't worry Rubin because he defiantly replies " I know I'm innocent " and he is , such a pity that the twelve jurors were all white and all racist and decided he was guilty simply because he was black . Thankfully justice is served though be it belatedly when a bunch of Canadians expose this terrible miscarriage of justice and Rubin is set free . Despite having his best years taken away from him Rubin bares no hatred towards the people who set him up . Compared to Rubin Carter Jesus Christ was a bitter and twisted man . It makes Washington's performance as Steve Biko in CRY FREEDOM look like an amateur performance in a school play . Or so we're led to believe

This film is a total disgrace . It doesn't play hard and fast with the facts because there's little in the way of facts . As I pointed out he was never a contender for a world title so forget all the boxing scenes that suggest he was . You can also forget all about the racist arresting officer investigating the murder case because he's a composite character that includes at least one black detective so racism wasn't at the heart of the case . Rubin Carter was dishonourably charged from the army and never had a distinguished military career , the jurors in the case included two blacks and he was found guilty by a unanimous decision so having " a black ass " wasn't a motive for finding him guilty , he was finally released on a technicality not because he was innocent and there's umpteen other revisionist aspects to the story . If you read the FACTS ( Something the producers of this movie clearly haven't done ) of the Carter case you might not think he's guilty but you'll instantly realise that this story is entirely fictional . It's Hollywood rewriting history in the worst possible way . Okay there's an opening disclaimer pointing out that some of the characters are composites and some scenes are dramatized but people with no prior knowledge of the facts won't realise just how disgraceful this film is at changing facts into something entirely different

I have awarded THE HURRICANE three out of ten and it would have got even less if it wasn't for the good performances and some technical achievements in editing and cinematography
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1/10
prime example of a murder hoodwinking Hollywood
FesterSam26 May 2002
Rubin Carter was tried and found guilty of murder. Read the evidence. This man is a nightmare. His own people call him Satan. He has lied, beaten and murdered. He was not able to pass ANY lie detector tests, and ballistics matched bullets found in his car to bullets that killed the 3 people. This evidence was found in the presence of unbiased 3rd party reporters. Do not let a good film could the truth. Rubin Carter is a stone cold murderer who walks the streets today while his victims are 6 feet under. The movie is inaccurate and portrays Carter as a victim when he is the true predator. This psychopath deserves to be behind bars now. Do some research and decide for yourself.
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10/10
Absolutely Awesome !
desire_9112 August 2008
This is the greatest true story I've ever seen. I love the emotion in this movie. I really think that the delivery of the performances are what makes it great along with the direction. It's beautiful. I recommend it to any and everyone. The struggle that Ruben Carter endured just puts light on the way things used to be, and makes really grateful that things have improved. Denzel's great!

I completely felt in love with this movie, in which you can find extreme endurance, strong courage, ultimate love and a very realistic character starred by Washington. The character not only shows how powerful spirit a human being can be to survive in harsh situations, how persistent should a man in desperate circumstances, but also bring strong feeling to watchers, who wanna do something better, something higher than what he is currently doing.

The Hurricane is simply one of my best top10 movies of all time.

for Entertainment: 10/10

Overall Score: 10/10
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1/10
A complete fabrication of the truth
pootc11 March 2006
The Hurricane as emotionally gripping as the "film" is, is an outright a lie and a complete fabrication of the real events and occurrences that took place on that fateful night in Patterson, New Jersey. First off, I believe it is the job of a responsible filmmaker and a storyteller to educate the public, not mislead them and purposely cover up the true facts and evidence as Norman Jewison has in his film. I too was caught up in the Rubin Carter hysteria upon seeing this film, in fact I loved this film, but I dug a little deeper and what I found was both shocking and disgraceful.

Dramatic license is one thing but to falsify and ignore so many details pertaining to this case is unforgivable and deceptive. Here are some true facts of the Rubin Carter case, which somehow didn't make the final cut of the film. (I wonder why) for those who are interested here are just some of the many facts.

  • Racist pig cop never existed. - Both Bello and Patty Valentine identified Carters car less than an hour after the crime. - The Police did not stop Carter and Artis because they were black, as the film would have you believe. They were rounded up because their car matched the description of the killer's getaway car. At first, just 14 blocks from the murder scene the cops let them go. When the same two cops got a description of the getaway car, they immediately recognized it as Carters car and were in pursuit. - When police searched Carter's car shortly after the murders, they found a live shotgun shell and a live .32 caliber bullet rolling around inside. The live rounds are significant because they fit the murder weapons and were found long before the caliber of the handgun used in the crime was determined. - No conspiracy was needed to frame Carter. On the day of the murders Bello told a friend "Rubin Carter shot up the whole bar". Months later he voluntarily (and reluctantly) names Carter as one of the two killers in two police interviews. Three days after Bello talked Bradley was interviewed, confirming Bello's story while he was incarcerated in a reformatory 75 miles away. Bello names Carter again in a tape-recorded interview, falsely depicted in the film. In actual fact Bello had already talked and didn't know he was being taped while Bradley was nowhere near the place. - In jail awaiting his first trial, Rubin Carter writes to his main alibi witness and tells her the story "I want you to remember." He runs through the alibi story point by point. - Contrary to the film, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter failed a lie detector test just hours after the Lafayette Grill triple murder in 1966, according to the man who gave him the test, John J. McGuire, a former police polygraph examiner. McGuire said the results showed that Carter lied when he denied being involved in the crime. He refused to take a second test. Artis also failed his lie detector test. - On the 8/3/76 the Prosecutor told Carter, "Pass a lie test and go free". Carter refused. - There was never any attempt to falsify the time of the murders and no evidence to claim it. - Hurricane Carter and his co-accused, John Artis, have never been found "not guilty" of the Lafayette Grill Murders. They were twice convicted, and twice the convictions were set-aside on the grounds that they didn't get a fair trial. The State of New Jersey decided not to re-try them a third time because so much time had passed, and withdrew the indictments against them.


What a disgrace of a film. What an outright lie, I can't believe they got away with this propaganda.
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1/10
Guilty!
sille23 February 2002
Fairly good movie, but not a true story.

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was a notorius liar, a murder and was never found not guilty. New Jersey State just didn't go for it a third time as 20 years had gone. Carter got an offer in 1976: "Pass a lie test and go free". He didn't take it. This film should never have been made, but money talks. A lot of people have unjustly spend their lives in prison and undoubtedly more blacks than white. Why choose a fake story?

Jens
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1/10
Awful...should have been called "SCOOBY DOO THE MOVIE"
jake-17919 March 2001
This movie was absolutely terrible. It is a fictionalized account of some events that actually happened. This movie in many ways is like the old Scooby Doo cartoons. The "medling kids" set out to solve a mystery. After they gather some clues and start getting close to solving the mystery, the bad guy shows up wearing a beige trench coat and fedora (just like they always did in the cartoon) and warns them to back off. Of course, they don't, so the bad guy sabotages their car (Mystery Machine) and as they are driving, the wheel falls off! There are so many similarities to the old Scooby Doo cartoons that I find it very difficult to believe the director did not parody the cartoon on purpose. Further more, most of the the movie is done via Denzel's narration, as his character recounts the story of Hurrican Carter's life. This movie drags on and on and ON! It is extremely boring. I found myself interested in the movie when it first started, but soon I was seeing through the over-dramatic bull crap and I was repulsed. This is a terrible movie and should be avoided at all costs. I gave this one a one out of 10 possible points, only because I cannot vote in negative integers.
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basically a work of fiction
dtucker862 October 2001
I need to warn people who watch this film, even though Denzel is a great actor who always gives a fine performance, to say the least this film needs to be taken with a grain of salt because its basically biased fiction with extensive "dramatic license". I have done some research and there are some facts you need to be aware of. First of all, Carter had an extensive criminal record, he was 29 years old when arrested for the Lafayette murders and had spent 11 of those years in confinement of some sort! The film shows him as a child rescuing a friend from a child molester and then stabbing him in self defense! Wrong! Carter actually beat a defenseless man over the head and stole his watch. He was always getting in trouble for fighting and beating up people, that was why he was sent to juvenile hall. He escaped in 1954 and spent two years in the Army (he was dismissed for unfitness after four court martials). He then went to jail for four years for assaulting and robbing three people. This film makes it look like he was pursued by a Javeat-like, bigoted detective named Della Pesca who "set him up" for the murders. There was no such person. Vincent De Simone was the real detective assigned to the case. According to all accounts he was a very nice man and an outstanding police officer who was not a racist or had anything against Carter. Also, contrary to what this film would have you believe, Carter was not unfairly robbed when he lost a decision when he fought for the title. Carter himself admitted this in an interview. Bob Dylans song The Hurricane said "they put him in a prison cell but he could have been the champion of the world". Carter lost eight of his last fifteen fights and wasn't even rated when he was arrested. In a 1964 Saturday Evening Post article Carter talked about going up to Watts and shooting cops (I could get about four or five). He owned an extensive gun collection and was feared by the people in Paterson. Is it any wonder he was considered a suspect! Like I said, this is a good film, but its just not true.
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3/10
Moving and uplifting... for an outright lie of a film.
MALPRACTICE28 September 2003
Make no bones about it, the Hurricane is a movie knee deep in Hollywoods twisted idea of reality, and by that I mean why tell the truth when a lie makes for a much better film? Well, in reality it probably would not do so,for the true story of Carter and his incarceration would have made him more of a thug and less of the "victimized African American" that the propaganda machine in Hollywood would hope you to see. Washington as usual is very strong in his role though almost nauseating in his delivery of many politically skewed lines fed to him from the obvious sympathy script. Hell even the real Carter has criticized the film for its watered down characterizations. The kneejerk liberal garbage this film exudes is sickening to anyone who wants truth in films, but hey go figure... Its Hollywood afterall, a place where other outright fallacies like Murder in the First and to a lesser extent movies like A Perfect Mind were made. If you wanna see the truth do a search on the case on the net, you sure as hell arent getting it here...
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Denzel Makes Us Do the Time
tedg27 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Yet another story about injustice righted. About a conspiracy of power (government or corporate), against an admirable hero. This would be a much more powerful story if they stuck to the truth. Carter WAS a thug -- that we couldn't be equally outraged knowing this is patronizing. The other smarmy elements (the relationship with Lisa, the drugs in the commune) would have helped as well.

The writing and directing is dreary, and the two and a half hours or so drag. Jewison is not a first-rate director. What's interesting is Denzel. I just hit him hard two days ago for `Titans.' He was mugging not acting, and supporting an irresponsible reduction of truth that I thought reduces society. I do have problems with this story as well, but I have to give Denzel his due as an actor.

First, let's note that we have some very fine black actors. There's no lack of appreciation of talent in this regard. Consider (among the younger crowd) Laurence Fishburn, Don Cheatle, Cuba Gooding, Forest Whitaker, Samuel Jackson, Delroy Lindo, Denzel, A few comedians. All of these have had some very respectable work. I've listed them from what I think is best to worst. Note: Denzel is just above Eddie Murphy (who is no slouch).

Denzel is committed, no question. But his effort shows. Its not supposed to. You don't notice it so much when the character is supposed to be intense. But that's cheating. In the first part, he plays an angry man -- in the last half by fits and starts, different types of intensity. Newspaper critics applaud intense roles, but the calm ones, acting naturally, are much harder.

There was a time when he tried. He was very controlled in `Much Ado,' really very good. There were moments in `Blue Dress' where I thought we were watching a major talent. But with fame comes that hungry ego which ruins the self that must go away when acting. This is a very sad film. In the character of a man who has lost his chance at greatness, we have an actor who has lost his chance at greatness to the prison of celebrity. That's the real tragedy of our society: how it eats people.
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5/10
Well why let the truth get in the way of a good story?
goreilly4019 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
People have asked why didn't Denzel get the Oscar for this performance? Well first off it wasn't because the acting was bad by any means, he gives a very strong performance, which is why he was nominated to begin with. So why the Oscar went somewhere else was because of the distortion of the events this movie was based on. Lets start with the main man himself, the movie depicts Ruben Carter as a noble person who was the victim of racism and injustice, were as the real Carter was an unstable violent character with an extensive criminal record. Now the events the movie got wrong, Carter did not stab a child molester as a juvenile, it was assault and robbery. Carter was dishonourably discharged from the army and declared unfit for service, he was not the highly decorated solider depicted here. Carter was not robbed of the middleweight crown, Joey Giardello won the fight fairly, even Carter himself admitted this. Carter's boxing career was in decline at the time of his arrest, he was not about to challenge for the title. The main detective was not the foul mouthed racist who was obsessed with getting Carter, in reality he never met Carter before the murders, he rarely swore and was a sensitive individual due to a facial wound received during WW2, he couldn't have been present at the Federal Court hearing, he died years before. The Canadians did not find new evidence, neither did anyone else and nobody tampered with their car. Carter WAS tried by an all white jury in his first trial, but the second jury had two black members. I could go on and on about what the movie got wrong but there isn't enough space, this movie butchers so many facts and ruins the reputations of people, some of whom are not around to defend themselves. As I said before it's not a bad movie to be sure, however this is not a true telling of the story, by all means watch it but don't accept of what you see as fact.
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An enjoyable film but suffers from being too black and white (if you can excuse the pun)
bob the moo10 July 2004
Framed by a white cop for a murder he didn't commit, boxer Ruben 'Hurricane' Carter tries to free himself from the constrains of his cell mentally by studying, picking over his case and writing his autobiography. Seven years later, Carter is still in prison with appeal after appeal being turned down, but his book has found its way into the hands a young student, Lesra who is inspired to study by the lessons in his book. As the two get to know one another through letters and meetings, Lesra and his teachers devote themselves to getting Carter freedom through a successful appeal.

Despite the fact that the basics of the story is interesting and compelling, this film only manages to be reasonable entertaining rather than compelling because it never really goes deeper than the basics. The story of a man wrongfully imprisoning and yet, somehow, overcoming that is going to be worth a look as it offers enough human interest for me to give it a try, but the problem here is that the film will give you a very basic look at the story and this basic feel will stop you getting involved in the story and maybe even make you wonder how much of it has been simplified down. Enough elements of the film remain interesting to cover this gap though and the character of Carter is interesting and semi-inspiring as he is portrayed here; I say 'as portrayed here' because I do not know how real this person I have seen here is. Part of the problem may be Jewison himself as his background is of a time where things could be as simple as, literally, black and white – but he brings that view to this movie and the story (and even the truth) appear to suffer as a result.

In Jewison's world there is no complex issues, no legal technicalities, no nothing – there is only a good black man who has been framed by bitter, racist cops even though everything points to his innocence; and boy, does Jewison spread it on thick! We trace Paterson's hatred of Carter all the way back to childhood and a scene where he comments on Carter's boxing fame just so we are totally clear that he wanted Carter more than anything! It's a real shame because the truth must be more interesting than this, although I imagine a lot more complex and for the film to just present such a clear cut and simplistic view of real life events not only insults the intelligence of the audience, it also does a disservice to the real life events it represents.

The cast are a big reason most of the film is interesting, or rather Denzel is a big reason it works. How close his Carter is to the real Carter is anyone's guess but his dialogue and his performance are both great. Washington made me believe this man's inner struggle by looks, words, tone of voice – this is the performance he deserved his Oscar for, not the more showy (and less controversial) one in Training Day. Shannon is also good even if he is far from central to the film. Unger, Schreiber and Hannah have clearly been told to play 'non-threatening white people' and they are all about as bland as a collection of people as I have seen. There is no meat on their characters and, as a result the three just play them very simple, basic and far too 'nice' to be believable; I'm not suggesting we have more detail on their lives but there was nothing to them whatsoever – a real problem when they are asked to carry some scenes near the end by themselves. Hedaya gets paid with a lazy 'racist cop' role that he can do nothing with, while Brown is OK in a return to his Shawshank role. Pastore, Steiger, Yulin and Paymer all add the feeling of depth in minor roles but really this is Washington's film and he is a big reason I found it entertaining.

Overall this was potentially an interesting, compelling and emotional film based on an intriguing real life story of injustice. However the script simplifies the story and characters to the point of being almost a version for people in a rush or without the intelligence to understand more. I cannot understand why the film just brushed past areas that would have made it more interesting (albeit more morally complex) and Jewison is to blame for a film that is very black and white in the portrayal of circumstances and its characters. Washington's performance and well written dialogue makes the film worth seeing but I was surprised by the film's ability to take an interesting and compelling story and simplify it to the point of lacking any real punch (sorry – he starts with a pun and he ends with a pun!). Watch once but there are much better examples of the genre and much better sources for hearing Carter's story.
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5/10
Menace 2 Society.
rmax3048231 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is the story of a world-famous boxer unjustly imprisoned for more than two decades for felony murders he did not commit. His conviction, upheld in a second trial, before he is finally released by a federal court, is practically an operational definition of the term "railroaded." Rubin "Hurricane" Carter would still be in Trenton State Prison, a hell hole if there ever was one, if it hadn't been for the altruistic efforts of three adults and one adolescent member of a Canadian commune, who became amateur sleuths by accident.

The film isn't particularly complicated. In fact, it's dumbed down to a point beyond which a lack of comprehension would be attributed to pathology. Almost all the frissons that might have made this more than a simple tale of moral strength and fortitude have been left out or shaped to fit a familiar mold. Dan Hedaya, for instance, is Paterson, New Jersey's Detective Della Pesci, the personification of racist-motivated darkness. The only reason he's in the movie is to snarl, threaten, make foul racist remarks, chivvy Carter, and see to it that he spends as much time in the slams as possible. Now, imagine that the movie gives him edge and adds other dimensions. Imagine, instead of Detective Della Pesci, Inspector Javert of "Les Miserables," another police officer who simply cannot give up his persecution and yet is recognizably human rather than another familiar stereotype. It would have been so EASY to give the heavy a family and a dog or at least a social context -- rising black crime in the cities of the 1960s and the panic associated with it. Yet the writers and the director throw away any chance to turn the film into something other than a condemnation of racism and the white people infected by it. As a kid, Hurricane stabs a middle-aged white guy only to save his chum from an oily child molester. Does anyone believe this? Ho hum.

Not to diminish the heinous effects of racism (or, more generally, prejudice) in our justice system. It's an imperfect machine, and Carter suffered abominably for every fourteen-year-old black kid who ever decorated a brick wall with graffiti from a can of spray paint. During one of his trials, the prosecution refers to his having been convicted by "a jury of his peers" and Jewison gives us a long shot of the all-white jury, in case we might otherwise miss the point. We can't help being relieved when Carter is ultimately released, and can't help thinking somewhere in the back of our minds about those twenty years of imprisonment.

Nobody really has much to do as far as acting is concerned. Denzel Washington is pretty good at projecting pent-up anger and defiance. And the writers have his character develop too. At first he concentrates on turning his body into an instrument of power. But after reading some inspirational books he develops his mind as well, and in practical ways. He resists being swept up in the prison system by rejecting what sociologists have called "the small reward system" of total institutions. If favors are returned by cigarettes, Carter doesn't smoke. If submission leads to protection, Carter can do without the protection. His career in the Army, however, was not quite the smooth ride the movie gives us, but let's not dabble in too many discrepancies between art and life.

The other characters are rather blank. Life in the Canadian commune was evidently not lastingly satisfying. (Carter and Deborah Kara Unger's blond altruist were married, then divorced.) But we don't really get to know much about them. They -- and Carter's legal defense team -- are played mostly as bland do-gooders who would have failed if not pushed to the wall by the power of Carter's will.

There's a good movie around this story, lurking someplace, unorganized, entropic, waiting for someone to write it and put it on the screen. It's a parable of good and evil. Not of good people and evil people, but of people who are each, within themselves, good and evil, just like all the rest of us. But this isn't that movie.
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Good drama, but very unbelievable.
RIK-226 September 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this movie not knowing anything about the man or story before starting. Even thought I knew nothing about the truth, the story seemed extremely biased and unbelievable.

Filmmakers seem to always fall into the same trap when making a ‘true story'. They try and make out the ‘hero' is an angel. This then ruins all credibility for the film. There were two scenes at the beginning of the film that made me immediately doubt the story:

<spoiler>

The scene at the beginning when a young Rubin, stabbed the man, seemed so contrived, I, immediately assumed, he actually stabbed the man, without provocation. The scene where Rubin, allegedly jokes with the reporter, about killing white cops. I suspect he did make these remarks in a serious way.

I don't know, if either of these events were as they were portrayed, but I suspect the reality was very different from what was shown.

I found the first half of the film amateurish and disjointed, admittedly after that, the film improved, but still there was a large lack of believability. The Policeman, who seemed ‘hell bent' on making Rubin's life a misery, was totally unbelievable. I'm sure there are ‘bent' cops, but they was absolutely no explanation as to why he acted in the manner he did. There was a similar problem with the ‘Canada crew', these people who seemed too nice to be true.

I still found the film entertaining and reasonably well made in the second half, but please Hollywood, if your going to make a true story, make it true.
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1/10
Definitely not worth the price of admission
tigz15 February 2000
This movie seemed to try so hard to thrust emotions on you. The audience almost forced to react as they would in some melodrama from an earlier age - cheer when your hero is on the screen, boo and hiss when the villain enters.

It never seems to matter in this story that it is the most one sided representation of a historical drama I have ever seen. Each character unearthed after the second half of the movie (taking place decades after the initial event) seemed to live in the shadow of "The Rubin Carter Cover-up" - jumpy, and completely unbelievable. Even while I think what happened to Rubin Carter was a grave injustice and a gross miscarriage of the law, I do not think that we in society owe it to anyone to pretend that this movie is something it is not instead of what it is totally OVERBLOWN. Not to mention this movie drags on and on without sweeping you up into the mood - builds to a patheticly low crescendo and just lets you down.
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3/10
Very Disappointing
Andy2623 January 2000
To everyone who has raved about this movie. I challenge you to look up the facts about the case, and by that I mean, not just Rubin Carter's version of the story. Carter was a much more complex man than the story shows. That isn't saying much, since every single character is completely one dimensional.

We as an audience would have been much better served, if he would have been portrayed as a real person, instead of a saint. Every possible negative was left out, leaving us with an unrealistic, one sided, portrait of human nature.

From the boxing matches, to the final verdict, the movie twists the truth for "dramatic" purposes. I think maybe that means the movie going public can't be counted on to shell out dollars for a more honest, less palatable story?

As a side note, the most ridiculous character is that of the villain. There is one scene where he pops up almost like the bad guy in a Scooby Doo episode. Just pretend the "Canadians" are those "kids".

What could have been potentially great, rings hollow.

Go rent Raging Bull.
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1/10
Another Story Ruined by Hollywood
greenrose1 June 2003
This film is sooooooo boring to watch. When I read the books about both Lesra's and Rubin's stories, I cried and cheered out loud many times. That was years ago. While watching the film tonight, which happened to be on TV, I could barely stay awake. Hollywood treats the audience like ignorant children. Every scene was ruined because the director doesn't trust us to understand the slightest complexity of the events. What's worse is that only makes the events onscreen even more incomprehensible, especially regarding the track record of the judge in New Jersey. As well, the activists in Canada were portrayed as 3 people who sat around in their house all day mouthing unpassionate quips about life.

I think most people who raved about this film were taken by the amazing story of justice finally done, and the escape of Lesra from the poverty and injustice of life in the ghettos of the US. For such deep and complex issues to be addressed, we need deep and complex filmmakers. Hurricane the film is so one-dimensional, and that's a shame because in the right hands it could have contributed to social change. Instead, it's just a showcase for Denzel the actor. I wish this film could have been made by an independent film group in the UK or anywhere else that wouldn't have sanitized the story & the issues with a constant orchestra of horns & violins in the background as is sooo typical in every single drama to come out of Hollyholywood.
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