Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Hunting Party

“Awards are like hemorrhoids; eventually every asshole gets some.”

Duck (Terrence Howard) is a camera man with the cushiest and highest paid job in the business. Traveling to Bosnia for a report he encounters his old friend and former partner Simon (Richard Gere) down on his luck and doing whatever he can to survive. Simon offers Duck a chance to relive the glory days and scoop the biggest story of the year by finding the number one war criminal in Bosnia - the Fox (Ljubomir Kerekes).

With the network VP’s kid (Jesse Eisenberg) in tow they set off to find the Fox and break the story. But what starts out as a wild goose chase soon becomes deadly serious as the threesome deal with events from the past, Simon’s own agenda, unfriendly natives, and an ever-increasing list of those who mistakenly take them for a C.I.A. hit squad and wish to offer their assistance including a UN officer (Mark Ivanir) and the girlfriend (Diane Kruger) of one of the guards which lead them so close to their prey they begin to ask themselves how come the C.I.A., who have been searching for months, can’t find this man?

The performances across the board are outstanding. Much like his role in The Hoax Gere provides a central character who deludes himself and others to reach his goals. The backstory involving Marda (Kristina Krepela) and his breakdown are excellently woven into the film and provide the character with a necesary emotional center that shows him as more than just a bum and glory hound. Howard is terrific as usual and young Mr. Eisenberg holds his own with pair, and provides the most surprising and humorous scene of the movie by telling an outrageous lie in a dark tunnel in the dead of night.

I also must praise the creators of the film for shooting in Croatia and Bosnia. The film looks and feels authentic, and not like Vancouver, because it was shot in the locations where this story took place. The look and feel of the actual locations, filled with extras from that area, help sell the story and the pain and loss that it has seen over the years. Writer/director Richard Shepard (The Matador) has now created two terrific and surprising films and I, for one, can’t wait to see what he’s got in mind next.

The film begins with a statement that only the most absurd parts of the story are true. I think there’s more than a little truth there. Those who want 100% accuracy in something like this are bound to be disappointed (check here for some of the real story or check out Scott Anderson’s original Esquire piece on which the film is based), but those with an open mind will find an intriguing story, based only in part on fact, that will make them think, question, and wonder about events around the globe, and how the US acts and responds to these situations, then this is the film for you.

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