The Hurricane

on December 29, 1999 by Susan Green
Print
   Bob Dylan's galvanizing 1975 anthem marked the first time most Americans heard of imprisoned black prizefighter Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, then already a decade into serving three life sentences for a New Jersey murder conviction. The case enjoyed another round of publicity when Carter was finally freed in the mid-1980s, thanks to the dogged efforts of a teenager from Brooklyn and three Canadians.
   Director Norman Jewison places this dazzling story about racism, injustice and redemption under the spotlight it deserves. Denzel Washington delivers a heart-rending, Oscar caliber performance in the role of a boxer who, as the lyrics on the soundtrack suggest, "coulda been the champion of the world."
   The cop with a grudge (Dan Hedaya) who wrongfully arrests Carter at age 11 for lesser offenses later frames him as an adult for killing three people. An all-white jury puts the top middleweight contender behind bars, where he remains until young Lesra Martin (Vicellous Reon Shannon) happens upon a secondhand copy of Carter's 1974 autobiography, "The 16th Round."
   Inspired, the boy convinces the Toronto do-gooders he lives with--Sam (the always brilliant Liev Schreiber), Terry (John Hannah) and Lisa (a lackluster Deborah Unger)--to take up the cause. The tale offers both a drumbeat for literacy and a keen sense of fate: "Sometimes we don't pick books; they pick us," Sam muses.
   The periodically disorienting but dynamic chronology culminates in the thrill of detective work that unearths new evidence leading to Carter's final day in court. David Paymer and Harris Yulin appear as his attorneys. Rod Steiger plays a federal judge. Cinematographer Roger Deakins gives the prison scenes the precise claustrophobic look described in the searing Dylan tune: "Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell, an innocent man in a living hell."
   Hell hath no fury like an impassioned movie with a social conscience. Starring Denzel Washington, Dan Hedaya, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Liev Schreiber, John Hannah, Deborah Unger, David Paymer, Harris Yulin, Rod Steiger, Greg Kinnear and Clancy Brown. Directed by Norman Jewison. Written by Armyan Bernstein, Dan Gordon and Christopher Cleveland. Produced by Armyan Bernstein, John Ketcham and Norman Jewison. A Universal release. Biographical drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 140 min
Tags: Denzel Washington, Dan Hedaya, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Liev Schreiber, John Hannah, Deborah Unger, David Paymer, Harris Yulin, Rod Steiger, Greg Kinnear and Clancy Brown. Directed by Norman Jewison. Written by Armyan Bernstein, Dan Gordon and Christopher Cleveland. Produced by Armyan Bernstein, John Ketcham and Norman Jewison. A Universal release. Biographical drama
Print

read all Reviews »


0 Comments

No comments were posted.

What do you think?