THE HUNTING PARTY (Alliance, 2007) D: Richard Shepard, w/ Richard Gere, Terrence Howard. Rating: NN; DVD package: NNN
You can skip this movie entirely and still have an entertaining and informative hour with the extras, beginning with Scott Anderson’s original source article for Esquire, What I Did On My Summer Vacation, a black comedy that details how five drunk journalists get mistaken for a CIA hit squad when they go looking for Radovan Karadzic, “the architect of the Bosnian genocide.”
In the half-hour interview that follows the film, Anderson and fellow Karadzic hunter John Falk are articulate, funny, forthcoming and full of insight into the ongoing Bosnian mess.
Sadly, those highly interesting men get turned into screenwriter’s contrivances: the burnout whose love was killed in the genocide (Richard Gere), his camera operator/best buddy (Terrence Howard) and the comic-relief rookie (Jessie Eisenberg). Only Howard gives any sense of actually being what he’s pretending to be. Gere does movie-star acting – the burnout as charming rogue. Eisenberg seems to think he’s the geek in a fratboy comedy.
Writer/director Richard Shepard crafts his characters that way on purpose. He tells us he wants the audience to like them and has the rookie ask questions on behalf of the viewers.
The characters and Shepard’s response to shooting in Sarajevo basically kill the movie. Awestruck by what he learns of the war and sees in Sarajevo, he demands realism and gets it. But he tells us he wants this to be an adventure movie, specifically a 1946 Warner Brothers B movie. Not much realism there.
The two streams never merge. The comic B movie kills the tension. The realism kills the comedy.
Extras Director commentary, making-of doc, original source article, journalists interview, deleted scenes. Widescreen. English, French audio. English, French, Spanish subtitles