The Hurricane (1999) starring Denzel Washington, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Deborah Kara Unger, Liev Schreiber, John Hannah, Dan Hedaya, Debbi Morgan, Clancy Brown directed by Norman Jewison Movie Review

The Hurricane (1999)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Denzel Washington as Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter in The Hurricane

Denzel's Freedom Fighter

For some the name Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter may have meant something, those who remember him as a boxer and knew about his story of wrongful imprisonment, but for many I doubt that name meant anything. Well that changed when in 1999 director Norman Jewison gave us "The Hurricane" the story of Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter a fighter who through a corrupt justice system was sent to prison for murders he didn't commit. But here is the thing, whilst "The Hurricane" is based upon a true story and is adapted from the books "The 16th Round" and "Lazarus and the Hurricane" the line between fact and fiction is most definitely a blurred one. It means that whilst the fundamentals of Rubin's story, his career as a boxer and being sentenced to life on the basis of dubious evidence is true, poetic licence has been used to turn them into a movie, missing out some points, changing others and so on to create a movie which divided audiences who felt it painted a too fictionalized picture as the truth. Even so there is no denying that "The Hurricane" is both entertaining and inspirational as well as featuring another stunning performance from Denzel Washington in the role of Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter.

"The Hurricane" is a movie of 3 parts, they interweave as the movie skips from the present to the past and to the in between but does have 3 clear sections. The first third of the movie focuses on why Rubin ended up in prison, convicted of murder and takes us back to his childhood to where he was put in a State Home for Boys when Det. Sgt. Della Pesca accuses him of attacking a white man. We follow Rubin's life, escaping from the school, joining the army and becoming a boxer whilst we also get the element that Det. Pesca made it his life mission to make sure that Rubin suffered and had him thrown back into prison after leaving the army to serve out time he didn't do when he escaped from the State School.

Deborah Kara Unger and Vicellous Reon Shannon in The Hurricane

This first third leads into the next and Det. Pesca setting up Rubin for murders which lead to him being thrown into prison for life. But whilst this section provides the reason as to why Rubin ends up in prison this is really all about how he survived in there, rebelling against the system, living life on his terms and devoting himself to proving his innocence. And then this merges with the story of Lesra and the 3 Canadians who then end up becoming his foot soldiers on the outside, trying to prove his innocence.

Now here is the thing if "The Hurricane" wasn't being marketed as a true story and just a work of fiction it would be great, it would be an amazing story of perseverance, inspirational in Carter's belief that he will get free and so on. But because this is a true story it has issues and the line between fact and fiction is so blurred that for those who don't know more details about Rubin's case could easily believe everything which is shown in the movie as being the whole truth. Don't get me wrong I am not saying that Rubin was guilty of the murders but I am saying that there is so much poetic licence that "The Hurricane" feels more fiction than fact, a fictional story built around a few truths.

Having said that it is entertaining, it draws us in to the plight of Carter as well as the story of young Lesra who finds Carter's story inspirational. We get uplifted by Carter's fighting spirit, his determination to live his life his way and his focus on becoming all the man he can be. And as such there is no denying that "The Hurricane" is one inspirational movie with some very powerful scenes with equally powerful dialogue.

What also makes it more powerful is that this is one of Denzel Washington's finest performances. From his physicality he is spot on looking every ounce a boxer but he brings more to it that than because he creates this 3 dimensional character one who we watch change through the course of the story. He allows us to feel Rubin's anger, his almost hatred of the white man for the injustice done to him ,his softening of that hatred when as time passes he realises that not all white men are bad. It is simply a knock out performance and one which in turn puts the rest of the cast which includes Vicellous Reon Shannon, Liev Schreiber, Deborah Unger, John Hannah, Dan Hedaya and Clancy Brown in the shade.

What this all boils down to is that "The Hurricane" is a very good movie one which does tell a powerful and inspiring story whilst also featuring a stunning performance from Denzel Washington as Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter. But the blurring of fact and fiction, the use of poetic licence does for me make it a flawed movie which whilst based on a true story feels more fiction than fact.

Tags: Boxing Movies