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Movie Review

The Hurricane

MPAA Rating: R for language and some violence

Reviewed by: Hillari Hunter
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Older Teen to Adult
Genre:
Drama
Length:
2 hr.
Year of Release:
1999
USA Release:
_____
Scene from The Hurricane
Featuring: Denzel Washington, Deborah Unger, Liev Schreiber, Vicellous Shannon, John Hannah
Director: Norman Jewison
Producer: Norman Jewison, Armyan Bernstein, John Ketcham
Distributor: Universal Pictures

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was a great boxer. He had made a name for himself despite a troublesome childhood. When three people are brutally shot and killed in a New Jersey bar, Carter, along with another man, are pulled in by the police for identification. Due to the tampering of facts and evidence by a local copy, Carter is falsely accused of the crime and sentenced to life. It does not help that Carter already has a juvenile crime record, and many are jealous of his success as a boxer. Determined not to let the system break him, Carter writes a book about his experiences with life to keep himself sane.

Scene from The Hurricane
Denzel Washington as Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter, wrongly accused for murder

Years later, a teenaged boy, Lesra, finds Carter’s biography and starts corresponding with the boxer. They form a friendship which leads to the boy, and later, his guardians, believing that Carter is innocent. They work to uncover the years of lies that have kept the Hurricane in jail.

Denzel Washington continues to prove that he is a powerhouse actor, in what is perhaps his best role since “Malcolm X”. He portrays Carter first as a man who has accepted his fate, but when he realizes that there are good people who care, begins to find hope again that justice will be served. Vicellious Reon Shannon is good as the teenager who can relate to Carter’s background, and refuses to give up on him.

The violence mainly consists of the murders that Carter was accused of, and an earlier scene where a would-be child molester is assaulted. There is no sex at all, but plenty of foul language and racial slurs. Despite of the things that might be offensive to many in the Christian audience, I highly recommend this film because of its core message: never give up fighting for what’s right.


Viewer Comments
Awesome movie! As a teenager in the 90’s I am constantly exposed to sex, drugs, and violence in movies with no real message. This is a great movie! It sends a message of standing up for what is right even when others discourage you. The violence is no worse than what you can see, and the language is excessive, but not horrible. I would recommend this to anyone! My Ratings: [3½/5]
—David, age 15
From the comments here and from other review services, Denzel Washington shines as the incredible portrayer he has shown in other films like “Malcolm X”. This film though is not without controversy. Several sources, including families of crime victims portrayed, feel the film does represent history. Whatever is accurate is not in my ability to judge. This does show a quandry of the movie industry and other “history” recorders. “Truth” is not always cleanly cut or uplifting, despite our preferences for pretty packages.
—Anonymous
“The Hurricane” was one of the best movies that I have seen in a long time. It is a compelling saga of a man’s unjust imprisonment and his struggle to accept people who truly have his best interest at heart in spite of the wrong others have bestowed upon us in the past. It offers hope to even the most hopeless situations. Mild profanity, but conducive to the movies’ theme. I would recommend this movie to someone who enjoys a good drama and who can appreciate an inspiring story of trust, love and loyalty. My Ratings: [3½/5]
—Antonio Wright, age 23
I live in Paterson, New Jersey where Hurricane Carter was also from. My mother lived down the street from the Carter’s house when she was younger. I used to talk with the people who were around when it happened… Two out of every three people thought that he did not do it and one out of every three thought he did it. The truth is we will find out on Judgment Day…
—Dennis Knolmayer, age 25
Fabulous movie and definitely best picture material. Any swearing or violence are non gratuitous. Overall, I think “The Hurricane” is less offensive than the typical James Bond film. A truly inspirational story: justice, perseverance, compassion, commitment and suffering are crystal clear in this film. Denzel’s acting is superb. This movie is probably the best drama I’ve ever seen. From a Christian point of view, “The Hurricane” is refreshing; and for me brought home the point that even in the midst of evil, God is always working for good. The offensiveness level is lower than “family” films like “Men In Black.” Because the message is so inspirational, I’d have no problem recommending this compelling drama for viewers from about age 10 up. My Ratings: [3½/5]
—Todd Adams, age 32
“The Hurricane” is a powerful movie. It is a bit long and could have been edited down some because there are unnecessary scenes such as a car accident orchestrated by those who want Rubin Carter to remain in prison. I liked the fact that the film is truly about the Hurricane and not just a legal thriller. In fact, I thought the most powerful scenes involved the charting of Rubin Carter from his childhood to his boxing career. Some of the prison scenes are slow-moving, but the overall effect of the movie is great. From a Christian perspective there is much profanity, violence, and a nude scene in prison. There are great scenes such as when Rubin states that he doesn’t believe that Lazra got his hands on his book by coincidence thus implying that God had a hand in it. I also enjoyed the message that the Hurricane needs to keep fighting and not cut himself off from the wonderful things in life. This is an important message since Jesus states that “I have come so that you can have life, life in all its fullness.” My Ratings: [2½/3½]
—Andrew, age 23
Before I went to this movie I had never heard of the Hurricane, although I immediately recognized the song on the soundtrack by Bob Dylan as one from my youth. I never realized it was about a real man. I was angered at how badly Rubin Carter was wronged, and yet, warmed by the compassion of others. This movie could really help bridge the gap of white/black racism. Although there is crude language and violence present, it is not overdone. This has to be the best “prison” movie I have ever seen! I wouldn’t be surprised if Denzel Washington received an Oscar for this one. My Ratings: [2½/5]
—Debbie James, age 41
I found the movie to be an inspiring story not only about the judicial battle between Rubin Carter and the courts, but also an internal battle of Rubin Carter and his will not to give up. I cannot recall as much profanity as the review implies, but the racial slurs of the movie are, although not plentiful, still prominent. At the same time the racial slurs were an unfortunate part of the times and should not detract anyone from seeing the movie. To have attempted to produce this movie not under this context would have removed from the realism that is so well brought out by Denzel Washington in the movie. Hurricane creates a character, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter who is strong yet vulnerable, courageous yet scared, and cold-hearted yet loving. This gripping story should not only inspire you to see the movie, but never give up. My Ratings: [4½/5]
—Scott Carlton, age 18
This movie did have offensive language, but it was suitable to the film. I would recommend this film to anyone over 16 years of age. It shows how we are to help the helpless, and not settle for anything less than the truth. My Ratings: [3/5]
—Theresa Tomcykoski, age 28
“The Hurricane” was a very emotional movie. Anyone who walks out of the movie and cannot come out of this movie thinking about how they can do a better job with their own life… I tell you, they really have no pulse in their heart. This movie was just so moving it was unbelievable. It also shows that despite this being 37 years ago, we’re still going through the same types of things. People hating each other for reason of race. This should not be! Especially among supposedly Christian people in the world! Everyone is a human. With Christians, there is no race. We all are ONE in Christ! Although, I counted about 4 uses of God’s name in vain (which I absolutely see no reason for)! However, unfortunately there are Christians who use such language and this is the “real” world that we are talking about here. No matter how much of a Christian we are, we cannot take away the words that have been deemed as “foul language” and this film is very realistic in those terms. My Ratings: [2½/5]
—Ron Coley, age 25
I do not remember much foul language in this movie. To tell the truth, I found it very refreshing not to have to hear the profanity which is usually a part of today’s films. There is another important lesson to be learned here that would benefit people that believe that all Caucasians are racists. I highly recommend this film! My Ratings: [5/4]
—Linda, age 44
“The Hurricane” is the best movie I’ve seen since “Saving Private Ryan” and “October Sky”. It’s based on real people and events. The actors and the real Hurricane appeared on a recent Oprah. The movie has actual footage of the real Rubin Carter and events related to him (Bob Dylan singing Hurricane, protestors, etc.) It was completely engaging (I was caught up in the movie and its’ main character rather than aware that I was watching a movie). I found myself extremely interested in, and caring for the two main characters. I thought the movie was excellent because it was “about something,” actually it had many excellent themes including justice, friendship, the value of family, the importance of reading, the power of writing and ideas! I thought the movie did a good job of presenting the story without surrendering to political correctness or too much relativistic, New Age rhetoric (although there was one scene where Rubin tells Lesra he needs to discover “the truth for Lesra” rather than “the truth.”) All in all, however, this film has lots of redeeming qualities including a scene where Rubin connects his name with Lesra’s and says the two names add up to “the Son of God risen from the dead.” The movie is rated R as it should be, but I’d highly recommend it. My Ratings: [4/5]
—John Ottley, age 43