And forgive me for being spotty about things since I'm trying not to say too much since not knowing what happens is part of the joy.
The Hunting Party (2007)
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And forgive me for being spotty about things since I'm trying not to say too much since not knowing what happens is part of the joy.
As society and modern youth get serious again, so Hollywood follows the trend, as movies tackle war corruption and hypocrisy following Clooney, Gore et al's lead. Shephard manages to combine thriller with humour and quips without it becoming a cheesy Lethal Weapon type ride. That's due mainly to sterling performances from Gere, reinvigorates after The Hoax, and Howard, showing a comic side after the intensity of 'Crash' Jesse Eisenberg also looks like this role was written for him personally, and the remaining cast are appropriate. The crisp, realistic docu-direction, mainstreamed by Paul Greengrass, has exerted its influence and fits neatly into this film without looking forced.
Therefore, it works - it brings a serious issue to attention with humour, compassion and enough adrenaline to remind one of the risks some people take with their lives for their causes, when most of us take the cosy path of least resistance.
I understand that a topic like this would attract rather polarised opinion. Putting aside the historical facts or political opinion, I think this film is well made and acted. It has thrilling and comedic elements. Just as things start to get slow, there are gunshots, car chases and road blocks to pump up the action. And just when the thrill gets too much, there are fun and relaxing scenes. The ending is strong and affecting, and it sends out a strong political message (or protest) about how the West is not doing their job. Jesse Eisenberg's role as Benjamin is a little redundant, but still I thought "The Hunting Party" was a good film.
This is a brilliant black comedy and gonzo reporting thriller. The tone does go all over the place. To me, that's the charm of this movie. It feels a movie through the unstable mind of Simon Hunt. All three actors deliver the goods. There is also questions about the reality of the story. It's definitely not a balanced take on the Bosnian civil war. However it's not completely out of bounds. The wild back and forth between serious and comical adds to my appreciation of the surreality of a civil war.
First of all, you would never believe the two of these people (Gere and Howard) would ever be friends. Howard, who is a witness to Gere's pregnant girlfriend's brutal murder, doesn't act like this matters until half way through the movie. Then, it hits him. The acting and dialog is hideously weak by all parties. The fact that these three people overtly roam around a dangerous country, unarmed, haphazardly, is just beyond believability.
Secondly, there is nothing in this film that truly educates the viewer about the horrors of what happened there.
That being said, it is just this side of watchable on a Sunday night with no better choices.
Oh and by the way, Kosovo now hosts the largest US military base in Europe.
PS: War criminals aren't just those with the "kalashnikov" in their hand, shooting and raping women. Sometimes a signature is as bad as that.
Stylistically this thing is beautiful to look at. I enjoyed the use of freeze-frames during the exposition scenes and the moments in warzones come across as real, dangerous, and above all else exciting. The joy and genuine laughter emitting from our leads after they narrowly escape death over and over again adds to the code of living life to the fullest that they both follow. Shepard holds some cards close to his chest also, showing us events leading up to Simon Hunt's breakdown, all but killing his career, however not explaining the entire story until absolutely necessary. Each character's motives aren't exactly the same towards the end as they were in the beginning. What's first a quest for redemption (Hunt), youthful vibrancy (Duck), and an excuse to show his father that he is made of more than a cushy Harvard school lifestyle (Benjamin) soon becomes a mission to do the right thing. These men are fighting for civility and humanity, two things that have left that part of the world and is in desperate need for return.
One can't fault any of our journalistic trio for anything they may find wrong with the final product. Richard Gere is spectacular as the fallen reporter, who we will eventually find has lost more than just his career. The desperation is always true and his actions perfectly played against the more sane members of the troupe. Terrence Howard shows us how great he can be and makes us wonder why he still feels the need to choose some god-awful movies between his good ones. The transformation he takes, in just a few short cuts, is rather staggering while essential to his role's motives later on. Going from an adrenaline junkie cameraman to a stand-in executive whose field work entails setting up outside the White House and Capital Hill almost makes you wonder how he ever could have changed so much. Then you think about the money, the security, and the relaxation time and soon the concept seems too good for anyone to pass up. The taste of danger never left, however, and it is his wrestling with that, by using some nicely timed humor, that helps carry the story to its conclusion. As for the boss's son, on his first foreign correspondence, Jesse Eisenberg epitomizes the book-smartass attitude someone in that position would have. It is his willingness to learn and bullheaded mindset to not let these two guys do anything to make him out to be a wuss that lead him to becoming an integral part to the team and mission at hand.
Along with them, every character that is met with on the journey to find "The Fox" adds just the right amount of infused quirk needed to keep interest. While familiar faces like James Brolin and Diane Kruger play their parts well, it is a guy like Mark Ivanir as Boris the UN executive that shines. He is caught up in this imaginary scheme of CIA hit squads coming in to do that which he wishes he could. It appears he has watched too many American movies and the dream of being a real live Deepthroat seems to appeal to his sensibilities as he attempts to help the trio in their quest to find that which is never found. These bit parts bring much of the laughter and absurdity that counterbalances the abundance of drama and high emotional toll seen at every turn. The Hunting Party does not try and sugar-coat what is going on in the Balkans and pays much attention in showing the truth and not what is read in the history books, both figuratively and literallythe book in physical form during a nice scene of Howard opening the innocent eyes of Eisenberg in a bar, along with the help of four of the real-life reporters on which the film is based.
Shot with some wonderful compositions and blocking of actors to build a sense of suspense and fear, Shepard has crafted a winner. Besides a too-long scene that goes on and on about how the UN and people in power are only out to create good PR without any work going towards punishing the monsters running free, I have little to complain about. I was almost completely removed from enjoyment with the horribly trite and overused joke with the ending subtitled words, but was redeemed with the inventive "what was real" sequence. To see the humor that was bubbling under the surface for the duration stick to the screen even after the story was finished brought the smile back to my face and made me remember all that worked, letting the more wrong than right final act to dissolve into the background.
Terrence Howard is mediocre at best. He lacks both the charisma and power to carry this film, which is awkwardly patched together with his clumsy and lifeless narration. Jesse Eisenberg is awful. It's clear he either got this role by pulling a fortune from a Cracker Jack box or by being the nephew of an important Hollywood producer. This possibility is only more pathetic considering his character is exactly that: a greenhorn thrust into the action by an overbearing father high-up in the network he works for. His incessant blinking, acting through his eyes and pour delivery made me want to laugh. Richard Gere's performance is uneven and his character never appears quite as conflicted as the script would have you believe.
Which brings us to the heart of this piece of Hollywood clap, the pathetic excuse for a script by Richard Shepard, whose most notable work before this was directing for Ugly Betty and Criminal Minds. The pacing is awful. The film doesn't truly start for over an hour, yet the most climatic scene of the whole film is setup and over in 45 seconds. No build-up, no tension. Throughout the painfully slow first 60 minutes there are numerous clunky scenes of ugly exposition that are forced down the viewer's throat like so many pieces of un-masticated, Americanized, overcooked and soggy hot dog. I was almost sickened as the clichés rolled in one after another... Bar scenes where buddies pour drinks of the local liquor that is said (more than once, by the SAME character) to bring the Devil himself to the table... Dark characters in clandestine meetings striking a match to light a cigarette and illuminate their distrustful visage... Evil faces emerging from behind dirty plastic sheets hanging in dank basements... Triumphant characters telling bad guys, "You're going down, mother-f***er!"... CIA characters being more than happy to offer lectures about the "gray areas" their organization is forced to work in... Car chases on dark rainy nights... Long shots of foreboding looks from local villagers... Flashback after flashback of the same scenes of lust and libations with lost loves. Easily the worst of these unnecessary flashbacks was a single line of dialog that was spoken by a character barely 20 minutes before. I literally asked the film - out loud - "Do you really think I'm so stupid that I needed to hear that line again?" It's sad to see such a good idea for a compelling story completely destroyed by an inexperienced, untalented writer/director with too much power.
Even if you can ignore all the cheap Hollywood tactics used to manufacture conflict, the script is riddled with so many other problems, it's impossible to become engaged long enough to enjoy anything... Long exposition scenes that could have been summarized in one line... Horribly out-of-character dialog... Completely superfluous girlfriend characters vacationing in Greece... Manipulative scenes that are so convenient in the placement of characters and timing that they are completely unbelievable. Add in a musical score filled with sappy, over-sympathetic violin melodies that destroy every mood that the movie was so careful to ALMOST construct, and it seems as though the film's intent is to dare you to become engaged.
The worst part is that The Hunting Party tells a story of a tragic conflict and genocide that NEEDS to be heard by every American, but the film is so bad at conveying its message, it betrays the memory of those lives lost. This film will not reach the audience it should, it will not touch the hearts that need changing, it will not come close to opening enough minds to possibly prevent another genocide in the future.
Even in its last moments, the film tries too hard to draw parallels and lay shame upon the inactive parties of the U.N. and the world's indifference to atrocities... While flashing "Where Are They Now?" title cards of the various characters in the last shots of the movie, Richard Shepard (with great and smarmy righteousness), goes above and beyond any notion of responsible storytelling by adding the idea that the U.N. and other related countries were unable to find the masterminds of the genocide in Bosnia because they were perhaps too busy trying to find Osama Bin Laden. This suggestion is so ridiculous, it smacks the face of every life destroyed by this war.
Bosnians switch to perfect English as needed (heavy accent is a must though).
In Sarajevo, we're given impressions our heroes are in constant danger, yet they park their car just outside their hotel on regular basis.
But the biggest rip-off is the ending. "The Fox" has 10 bodyguards. But he goes hunting only with his sharp-shooting friend. Our heroes scare him with a bang, so he drops his rifle and runs away, leaving his sniper friend behind and they just catch him without any weapon, like they were playing some game of tag.
Acting is missing altogether. I was hoping Terrence Howard would work it a bit, but he was just playing guitar and throwing swearwords around. The only character that does any acting job at all is Mark Ivanir in the comic role of UN commander Boris.
I give it an extra star for bringing attention to war in Bosnia, damages that have been done, and UN's failure there.
Its up to you, don't trust me i recommend you too watch the movie and tell if I'm right or not! I Give the movie a 2 for the actors that sold out so cheap i think even before they read the script...
The Hunting Party is based on a true story about three journalists (played by Richard Gere, Terrence Howard, and ) who go on a mission to interview and capture one of the most wanted war criminals in the worldthe Fox. True story films usually seem to command a degree of respect, because as we watch it we know some or all of it happened to a certain degree. Despite opening with the line "Only the most ridiculous parts of this movie are true." I could not respect this film.
There were so many problems on so many levels I was left dumbfounded. The characters are underdeveloped, distant and impossible to relate to. The decisions they make seem almost trying to make us dislike them. The pacing and flow of the film was disorganized, chopped-up, and confusing. The entire film seemed to be random scenes of a true story tacked together to produce a story and Terrence Howard's calming narration added to the beginning and end to smooth it out and connect it. It seemed like it was trying to be an intense thriller, a true story about impossible odds, as well as a melodrama of two men who worked together and their experiences.
Unfortunately Gere's and Howard's talented performances were wasted in this messy mechanical, melodramatic film. I love true stories, but not all true stories were meant to be turned into films.
"The Hunting Party" is one of those annual releases that bridge the gap between the box office heavyweights of summer and the more serious award-contenders of fall. But once audiences have a look at what's to come, they'll forget this modest "Party" ever happened.
Waste of time.
My comment did not contain enough lines. The minimum length for comments is 10 lines of text. Gee. I could fill a page with all that's wrong with this movie but I need to watch something good now to cleanse my mental palate.
Once again, the Serbs are filmed as bloody, filthy, freaky bustards that only live for killing and raping. This is the worst prejudice of one nation that is ever filmed on the movie screen!
I write this review after Radovan Karadzic is already imprisoned in Hague tribunal. So they finally get him... but who arrested him??? Was it American journalists or CIA or Interpol? NO! Serbs arrested him and took him to justice, without US to interfere. OK, a long time passed before Karadzic was arrested, but better now than never.
And what about the end of the movie? What kind of human-beings leave a man suspected for war-crimes ( still not convicted), without a fair trial or any trial? Is that an American justice? No human rights for all... Should we people make our own law and judgements or leave it to courts?
This movie is filled with prejudice, hate, and misunderstandings. So, don't waste your time watching it.
The story is a bit far fetched, but we went along for the ride having no preconceived ideas. What seemed to be an adventure film, doesn't hold our attention, perhaps because the story has been done before, much better, one must add. The main character, Simon Hunt, is a man with an agenda. He has seen the horrors of the fighting first hand. He is made a victim of the struggle when he lost the woman he loved by the Fox, when he comes to late to do anything to prevent her tragic death. Together with his old camera man and the son of a vice-president of the network which he worked for, he sets out to capture the fugitive guy, acting on his own theory to get the Fox and getting the million dollars being offered for his capture.
Richard Gere's Simon is an unlikely hero, as the washed up correspondent that did the ultimate sin while on camera, something his former network didn't take too kindly. Now, unemployed, he has to free lance in that part of the world that saw violence during the war. Terrence Howard, who is one of the best actors of his generation, has not much to do. In a way, he feels compelled to help Simon because of the remorse he feels. Best of all is Jesse Eisenberg, who turns out as a surprise at the end.
Mr. Shepard, who wrote the screenplay as well, proves he is not as successful as he was with "The Matador". One wishes him well with any new projects.
It was just plain awful...
Stupid, stupid, stupid!