7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Very good, if flawed, biopic.,
This review is from: The Hurricane [DVD]  (DVD)'The Hurricane', as with many biopics, was criticised for its "inaccuracies" in the usual way the media has reviewed such a film since 'JFK'. Pity, as it should be obvious that a film still has to be a film- regardless of its source- it would have to compress and fictionalise to an extent- or it would be a documentary (which can be as fictional as fiction with the selective memory of selected "witnesses"). Plus, the major reason for compression of characters & events are usually to make the film watchable- so "THe Canadians" are reduced to three people here- when there were more. But would we need the correct number of Canadians on-screen to get across the idea of their relationship to Lezra & Carter? Its like the person who complained that 'Nixon' reduced 80-something calls to a few; does this alter the story in any way? Auto/Biography and History all impose linearity and an order that fictionalises "reality" or "factuality"- so the basic message of this film remains the same: Ruben Carter was wrongly incacerated and a group of "Canadians" helped aid his release 20 or so years after he was imprisoned for murder.
Washington should have one an Oscar for this- though the same can be said for his performances in 'Cry Freedom' & 'Malcolm X'. As with 'Ali', it does tend to paint the zeitgeist in obvious 'Forrest Gump'-by numbers: soul-songs, footage of civil rights demos, the pictures of Rosa Parks? This feels a little clumsy and forced- and gets away from the fact that our hero was away from all of this (the somewhat messy structure doesn't help either- if you're going to cut back & forth time- there must be good reason!). The boxing element seems a little underplayed- you wonder if it was worth Washington training for a year (this is not something that you can level at the best boxing film, 'Raging Bull').
'The Hurricane' is a fairly standard melodrama, Jewison avoids the grey area (such as the white paedophile whom the 11-year old Carter stabs)- this is a story about the difference between guilty & innocent. This film is quite touching though- in the ideas of attaining enlightenment and transcendence through education and fraternity. It would be worth seeing just for Washington's performance alone- though Vicellous Reon Shannon, Dan Hedaya and Deborah Kara-Unger (suffering a brief flashback to her role in 'Crash' at one point) all acquit themselves well.
'The Hurricane' does feel a little old-fashioned at times- which is part of its problem and part of its charm. I don't think it is up-there with the best biopics of recent years- 'Ed Wood', 'Nixon', 'Patton', 'Raging Bull', 'Reds' etc- but it is as good as 'Ali'- though unlike Michael Mann's film it gives you a protaganist you can empathise with. Plus it made me want to listen to Dylan's song and read Carter's book (which appears to be out of print). The extras are fairly standard- the conventional 8-minute studio feature that tells you very little. Pity, as the fall from grace of many a great African-American boxer seems all too frequent- from Liston to Tyson. And part of this is due to the racist enviroment that they have been forced to endure- the very thing that wrongly convicted Carter- who is a true "American hero".