The Hunting Party (2007)
|Genre(s): Adventure / Comedy / Drama / Thriller|
|Weinstein Company || R - 101 minutes - $28.95 || January 22, 2008|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-01-23|
Writer(s): Scott K. Anderson (article); Richard Shepard (written by)
Cast: Richard Gere, Terrence Howard, Jesse Eisenberg, James Brolin, Diane Kruger
Theatrical Release Date: September 14, 2007
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“Putting your life in danger is actual living... the rest is television.”
The Hunting Party centers around three journalists in post-war Bosnia. Simon (Gere) is an infamous field reporter who broke down on live TV years earlier and since went from one news station to another. Terrence Howard plays Duck, Simon’s good friend and cameraman who, along with Benjamin (Eisenberg), the son to an important news corporate head, go to Bosnia where Simon proposes a huge news story that will get him back in the game. Simon knows the location of long sought war criminal nicknamed “The Fox”. Where the CIA and the UN seemingly failed, these three fellows were able to find him.
Richard Shepard’s The Hunting Party wanted to be something more and even though it features fine performances from Richard Gere and Terrence Howard, it never gets beyond the “good” status. One of the reasons, I think, is because you’re not sure what it really is. Is it political satire? A thriller? Tragic drama? I guess it could be all three but it never flows that well and in the end, and despite the serious plot regarding the conflict in Bosnia (and war in general), it didn’t make much of an impact.
Writer and director Shepard previously released The Matador, an offbeat comedy starring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear. The Hunting Party is skillfully directed but filming on location in Bosnia, makes it easier. However, on the writing side of things, Shepard doesn’t quite succeed. Maybe it’s a subject matter that would’ve been better as a documentary with extensive interviews with the real journalists than a 100 minute feature film.
What does work, is an interesting idea (aka conspiracy theory) surrounding the world community’s lack of initiative to go after war criminals, when a few regular folk could find him. Do I believe it? Sure. But is it a covert conspiracy or just a lack of courage. I lean toward the latter.
I think a movie about the genocide in Bosnia should be made as it is a conflict many, at least here in the States, know little about (hell, I don’t know a lot). It’s good to see it take center stage in this movie but it should’ve been so much more powerful.
If there was one thing that makes The Hunting Party worth a look, it would be Richard Gere’s performance. It’s not as good as some of his previous works, but still a solid contribution.
Overall, give the movie a try. It’s not as good as I had hoped but still pretty good even with its flaws. A little more focus would’ve made this a much better film.
Writer-Director Commentary – Writer/Director Richard Shepard sits in for an informative and in-depth commentary. He leaves no stone unturned, chatting about filming on location to the Bosnian conflict itself, and allows very little gaps. Although I prefer multiple commentators, as a solo track, it remains interesting throughout.
Deleted Scenes (5:22) – Six scenes are included, along with Shepard’s optional commentary. These are mostly extended scenes and were rightly excised to pick up the pace. The last scene, though, is a funny practical joke.
Making The Hunting Party (9:19) – Simple ‘making of’ featurette that provides the typical sound bites with the cast and crew explaining their thoughts on the project.
The Real Hunting Party (29:39) – Whenever you have a movie based on real events, even when a good portion is fictionalized, I like seeing the real people involved. Here, Shepard interviews two of the five journalists involved.
Finally, the disc also features the Esquire article, “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” and the original theatrical trailer.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The Hunting Party is presented in its OAR, 2.35, and looks very good. It looks like a solid transfer and, I assume, as the director intended. The only audio option is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is certainly good enough, though it will not knock your socks off.
Even though The Hunting Party could’ve been a solid movie with a valid message, covering a situation people should know more about, it features solid performances from Gere and, as always, Terrence Howard. No, it isn’t award worthy nor is it that profound but definitely worth a rental.