The Hurricane

Bomb Rating: 

Hollywood's answer to this laissez-racist attitude is the patronizing Black Man in Prison film, nearly every one of which is resolved when some white do-gooder decides it's time to spring him.

Here's the prevailing attitude amongst certain white people who have about as sound a sense of their history as do fruit flies: "Why should my tax dollars go to affirmative action (or whatever)? I didn't have anything to do with oppressing black people." Hollywood's answer to this laissez-racist attitude is the patronizing Black Man in Prison film, nearly every one of which is resolved when some white do-gooder decides it's time to spring him. This results in joyous white people, happy that justice has been served and an innocent man freed, yet still cautiously certain that there must be a good reason why 50% of black men between the ages of 18 and 24 are in prison.

Bob Dylan did his feel-good bit when he wrote his song about "The Hurricane," the story of imprisoned middleweight fighter Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (Denzel Washington). Carter was imprisoned for murder along with another man in the mid-'60s. Although Dylan's song brought media attention to Carter's cause, he didn't stick around to see things through. So, after a young black kid, Lesra (Vicellous Reon Shannon), reads Carter's autobiography, he ends up spurring his housemates to work for Carter's release.

Lesra's housemates are these very strange Canadians: Lisa (Deborah Kara Unger), Sam (Liev Schreiber) and Terry (John Hannah). They've taken Lesra from his home in Brooklyn to teach him in Canada. Lesra tells Carter that the Canadians make their living fixing houses or something, but we never see them fix a damn thing. They move down to the States to work on Carter's case and we're left to assume that they're the white angels who get black people out of prison.

The film is directed by Norman ("Moonstruck") Jewison, who received the Irving Thalberg Award at the 1999 Academy Awards. This is an award given for lifetime achievement, with an inscription on the back: "You've been around a long time and made a lot of movies. You can stop now."

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