The story of the boxer, Hurricane, unjustly jailed for murders he didn't commit told through the frame of a Canadian family who devoted their lives to his case.
In 1975, after a decade of practising obscure wordsmithery, Bob Dylan decided to adopt a more direct approach. "They're gonna put his ass in stir," he sang in the song Hurricane. "They're gonna pin this triple muuuh-durgh/On him/He ain't no gentleman Jim!". Okay, not Dylan's finest hour lyric-wise, but he got the message across. For black boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter had already served years in jail for murders he didn't commit, having been stitched up by racially-motivated police officers.
In the event, the Hurricane would not be released until 1985, after teenager Lesra Martin convinced his adopted guardians - a bunch of commune-dwelling Canadians - that they should devote their lives to Carter's case. It is the investigations of these Canucks (played by Deborah Kara Unger, Liev Schreiber and, John Hannah) that provide the frame for Norman Jewison's bio-pic, although these are the film's weakest scenes, leaving a plethora of questions unanswered.
Fortunately, most of the film's length tells the tale of Hurricane himself, as personified by Denzel Washington, who essentially repeats the angry young man-to-philosophical mid-lifer emotional arc he travelled in Malcolm X with even more compelling results. The actor has never been better than in the sequence where his angered personality not only splits into three (Noble Hurricane, Nasty Hurricane, Cowardly Hurricane), but then proceeds to bicker amongst itself. Moreover, he is ably supported by the likes of Rod Steiger and a never-better Dan Hedaya, as the evil-minded Detective Vincent Della Pesca.
True, Rubin Carter can't be the saint Jewison would have us believe, but only the very ungenerous will find grounds for complaint. The result is a decent-minded, brilliantly executed movie about race and injustice which, while not quite as impressive as the director's own In The Heat Of The Night, certainly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. And it's difficult to think of a higher compliment than that.
A decent-minded, brilliantly executed movie about race and injustice which, while not quite as impressive as the director's own In The Heat Of The Night, certainly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. And it's difficult to think of a higher compliment than that.