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some movies' pre-release buzz is so insistent on their high oscar potential that when they're finally released , everyone just goes along with it .
thus sometimes , films unworthy of any award sans the razzie become oscar hopefuls and some even score nominations .
last year it was the thin red line .
this year's " winner " is the hurricane , pure unadulterated tripe that is all of a sudden being received with critical plaudits and votes in the office oscar pool .
acclaimed director norman jewison's biopic retreads all the conventions of courtroom movies without any of the fun .
and that's supposed to be ok because , see , it's a true story .
it's about rubin " hurricane " carter ( denzel washington ) , a legendary african american prizefighted who is unjustly convicted of triple homicide with the help of a ghastly ( racist ! )
detective ( dan hedaya ) who's had it in for the " big-shot " hurricane ever since he arrested him for stabbing a white man with a knife ( in self-defense but who cares , right ? )
when rubin was only ten .
he is to serve three life sentences with no possibility of parole .
most of the film takes place when he is in his 15th year in prison .
to the rescue -- lesra martin ( vicellous reon shannon ) and his team of wanna-be detectives .
lesra is an african american teenager taken in by three well-off canadian white people ( hanna , unger , schreiber ) to get an education .
lesra and his buddies go to a book sale where lesra picks out his very first book -- " the sixteenth round , " rubin's autobiography .
immediately thereafter , schreiber's character tells lesra " sometimes we don't pick the books we read , they pick us . "
hmmm .
after a few visits to the prison , they become convinced of rubin's innocence and launch their own full-scale investigation even though two juries have convicted him .
they meticulously go through all the files and revisit all the old witnesses ( i wonder if any of them might be cranky old women who slam the door in their faces ? ) and in the course of their relentlessy tedious sleuthing uncover obvious evidence confirming the hurricane's innocence that was either ignored or never seeked out during the first two proceedings .
of course , we're already told that he's innocent .
a movie like this is especially frustrating because we're not being shown everything significant that happened to carter during this period in his life .
all too obviously , we're getting the hollywood watered- down version .
that would be ok except that the parts we are getting is milked for every single drop of melodrama that the filmmakers could possibly squeeze out of it .
it's almost cruel .
the melodrama isn't of the entertaining kind either ; it's the hokey , rammed-down-your-throat variety where every emotion is exaggerated to the point of absurdity .
witness the villain ferociously grinding his teeth at the final trial or the constant pseudo-saintliness of our four protagonists .
the hurricane is your basic courtroom movie except it's a no-frills courtroom movie .
it's formula stripped to the bare necessities .
you have your wrongly accused black man .
you have your melodramatic final courtroom scene .
but there's nothing else .
you'd expect some sort of involving investigation .
but that's not necessary since we're implicitly informed of his innocence .
thus the whole middle portion of the movie is reduced to the protagonist brooding .
brooding to himself .
brooding to other inmates .
brooding to lesra .
brooding to lesra's canadian friends .
brooding in letters .
i don't think i'll ever look at brooding the same way again .
it wasn't long before i got tired of hearing the hurricane's exceedingly deep meditations on his condition .
i wanted something to happen .
as for washington's performance in the title role -- i figured i'd have to address it sooner or later considering the amount of attention it's received -- he is top notch , though still boring .
how is that possible ?
well , he does what jewison wanted him to do perfectly .
unfortunately what jewison asked him to do is a load of crap .
what a waste of a great performer .
speaking of wastes , why the hell did john hannah agree to do this ?
he's an extremely talented actor and i love him dearly , but what is he doing here ?
to call his character ( along with schreiber's and unger's ) a stick figure would be a gross understatement .
all three of them come off as veritable mother theresas , as benevolent as do-gooders come .
if they're to play a major part in this movie , why not make them real people , with real feelings and emotions ?
look : if you're going to make a formula movie , don't undermine the formula .
courtroom dramas can be fun , but this is ridiculous .
not only is it trite , it's boring .