Volume 93, Issue 60
Tuesday, January 18, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Denzel's Hurricane blows crowds away
Photo by Ken Regan
"ALRIGHT. EVERYBODY WHO HAS BEEN WRONGFULLY CONVICTED OF MURDER, PLEASE RAISE YOUR RIGHT HAND." Denzel Washington takes roll call and then schools the competition in The Hurricane
By Chad Finkelstein
It's about time.
After having his enormous talents wasted in forgettable films of late, Denzel Washington has finally delivered the performance of his career in Norman Jewison's The Hurricane.
This pinnacle of achievement follows recent efforts in films such as Fallen and The Bone Collector, in which Washington's abilities shone well beyond the quality of the pictures themselves. Powerful, energetic, explosive all overused words to describe Oscar-calibre performances. In this case, however, all are well deserved by this accomplished actor.
Washington portrays Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a pro boxer whose career is cut short after he is wrongly convicted of murder, due to a racist detective's intentions of seeing a black man behind bars.
While in prison, he passionately proclaims his innocence. After spending weeks in solitary confinement, he still refuses to wear the uniform of a guilty man.
He conditions himself to feel no desire, need, or dependence from the external world. The longer he is caged, the more the fighting spirit within him transcends into pure hate, which suffocates the joy and trust of which he was once capable.
Carter tries to appeal his conviction numerous times over the term of his incarceration, but is repeatedly denied. His only salvation rests in his memoirs, which he hopes will reveal enough evidence to eventually free him, or garner enough public support to try.
Years later, a boy named Lezra Martin (Vicellous Reon Shannon) picks up the volume and becomes so wrapped up in its injustice, he befriends Carter as a penpal. Soon, the boy and his benefactors dedicate themselves to freeing the former champion.
It is difficult to critique The Hurricane, because it is such a flawless movie. Does one start with Jewison's structured cinematic techniques which blend together in an impressive puzzle of flashbacks and perspectives? Or is it more appropriate to comment on the diverse triumph-of-the-human-spirit theme, which not only feels new and original, but also explores brave, emotional terrain?
The film is brilliantly woven together by dynamic black and white boxing segments where Carter's true ferocity is unleashed in a storm of unabated rage. An effective musical score also accompanies the climactic moments and Bob Dylan's homage to the Hurricane is played just enough times to be meaningful without being excessive.
However, the true powerhouse of the movie is Washington. Displaying his finest work ever and undoubtedly vaulting to the front of the pack for an Academy Award, his portrayal is both moving and inspiring. It's one of the best casting moves in recent cinematic history Washington gets lost in the part of a strong and poetic survivor who is still prone to suffering. His presence electrifies the screen and evokes passion, hope and truth in every word he utters.
An early contender for movie of the year, The Hurricane flows majestically from start to finish while carrying a message of justice and racial tolerance, without being too preachy or melodramatic. It erupts with energy and intensity and finally makes the most out of one of today's most gifted actors.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000