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The Hunting Party (2007)

DVD Cover (The Weinstein Company)
Genres:
Political Thriller, Thriller, Tragi-Comedy
Director:
Richard Shepard Richard Shepard
Starring:
Terrence Howard Terrence Howard
Richard Gere Richard Gere
Gordana Vukres Gordana Vukres
James Brolin James Brolin
Sanela Seferagic Sanela Seferagic

6.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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A young journalist, a seasoned cameraman and a discredited war correspondent embark on an unauthorized mission to find the no. 1 war criminal in Bosnia; they find themselves in serious jeopardy when they are mistaken as a CIA hit squad and their target decides to come after them. --IMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 14, 2007
There have been a surplus of films lately dealing with the Iraq War, the war on terrorism and the way in which the United States suppresses the liberties of its citizens. These types of films are the natural consequence of a political action and they reflect the liberal politics of the time. Most of the films, however, have been pretty bad. "Rendition" had some engaging components, but was all bark and no bite. "Lions for Lambs" was nothing short of a painful movie going experience, as Robert Redford did nothing but preach to a choir that didn't feel like listening. "In the Valley of Elah" has been the most successful, because it took the intellectual route and gave a subtle push for its politics. "The Hunting Party", released earlier in 2007, deals with a political action that most Americans have probably forgotten about - the Bosnian genocides, where ethnic cleansing resulted in the slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Muslims. President Clinton, along side NATO, lead a peace keeping mission to Bosnia, that turned into the crisis some of you might remember. "The Hunting Party" does not so much deal with this event as it uses it for a back drop to a damned interesting storyline. What resulted is one of the most humorous, engaging and thought-provoking films of the year.

Simon (Richard Gere) and Duck (Terrence Howard) are the best in the business at what they do - they are war reporters who travel to the most dangerous countries in the world to get footage behind enemy lines. One day, when Simon has seen to much, he cracks live on national television and is fired. Duck, however, who filmed the breakdown, is promoted. The war that brings Simon to the end of his rope is the Bosnian crisis, where he witnesses the ruthless slaughter of innocent civilians, including the girl he loved. Years later, Duck returns to Sarajevo, where he is accompanying his boss, Franklin (James Brolin), the network anchor, as they celebrate the anniversary of the peace keeping efforts. He is also joined by Benjamin (Jesse Eisenberg), the son of the network Vice President, who is along for the ride. There, he almost immediately runs into Simon, who claims that he knows the location of The Fox (Ljubomir Kerekes), a Bosnian war criminal who was responsible for the death of the woman he loved. Simon recruits Duck and Benjamin to join him in an attempt to snag an interview with the man, though his underlying motives are to bring him to justice and collect the $5 million dollar reward on his head. What ensues next is the chase to catch The Fox, and how it affects the three of them.

This was one hell of a movie. The film opens with one of the most hilarious sequences I have seen in a long time, with Gere and Howard running down streets and avenues, escaping bomb blasts and gunfire, with a spot-on narration from Howard. In fact, "The Hunting Party" really is just as much comedy as it is anything else, and the film opens with telling you - "Only the most ridiculous parts of this story are true". The film ends by telling you just what was true, and what wasn't. What we get in between in wonderful. Director Richard Shepard brings a humanity to this film that never manages to get lost. He presents us with three likable leads who are all good guys trying to do what they think is the right thing. He also brings a human face to the Bosnian people who have been so long ignored by the international community. And he paints a solid picture as to just how the United States might have accomplished some of what it accomplished. My favorite parts of the film were when the three of them were traveling the countryside, looking for The Fox, not really knowing where to go or how to get there. There is an especially intense encounter at a small bar, where the men are basically told they should either leave or die - their choice. The ending is also skillfully plotted, with Dylan Baker coming on as the CIA operative who knows more than they do, but also knows when to keep his mouth shut.

The performances here are Oscar caliber. Richard Gere has been on a string of solid performances, and this film along with "The Hoax" might make 2007 the Year of Gere. He is fantastic here. This might be his most solid and rounded performance to date. Also fantastic is Terrence Howard, who continues to prove why he is one of the best actors working today. This film along with "The Brave One" also make 2007 a great year for this Academy Award nominated actor. He is choosing his roles rather wisely. Jesse Eisenberg, in a great and comedic supporting performance, also shows he can carry his weight with the big boys just fine. He is pretty much playing the same character he always plays, but he gets some more dramatic elements to play with here and he does it quite well. As mentioned earlier, Dylan Baker comes in for five minutes at the end of the film and owns the scenery. This role sounds like it was written especially for him and he chews it up. This is the kind of performance often overlooked, but totally deserving in Best Supporting Actor consideration. And blink and you might miss a barely recognizable James Brolin as the network's lead anchor. I had no idea it was him until the closing credits. "The Hunting Party" doesn't hit a bad note, performance wise.

This was one of the best films of 2007, and it will certainly make my end of the year list. I only wish I had been able to watch it sooner. "The Hunting Party" brings to light an event that most have forgotten about and even fewer remember. Bosnia was not that long ago. And it had more of an impact on the world that we could possibly realize. This films helps shed some light on that. It isn't overwrought like "Lions for Lambs", or too one-sided like "Rendition". It's a film that stands on its own as comedy... drama... and intrigue. There are very few films released that can handle all three so masterfully. Kudos to director Richard Shepard for crafting yet another fine motion picture. He really is a director to be watched these days. My suggestions are Richard Gere and/or Terrence Howard for Best Actor, Dylan Baker for Best Supporting Actor and Richard Shepard for Best Director. "The Hunting Party" deserves all of that and more. You need to check this film out.

10/10.
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