Odds are you missed “The Hunting Party” when it hit theaters back in the Fall of 2007. The film came a bit short in earning back its $25,000,000 cost (the movie pulled in less than one million domestically) and disappeared from theaters faster than Keyser Soze from a police station. If you missed it (shame on you!) I think it’s about time you checked out our latest Overlooked Movie – “The Hunting Party.”
Based, in part, on true events, the movie tells the tale of a small group of newsmen who do in hours what the C.I.A. can’t do in months – track down the number one war criminal is Bosnia. Filled with humor, drama, and packed with emotion, the film is about friendship, glory, revenge, and the freedom of the press.
Duck (Terrence Howard) is a camera man with the cushiest and highest paid job in the business. Traveling to Bosnia for a report he encounters his old friend and former partner Simon (Richard Gere) down on his luck and doing whatever he can to survive. Simon offers Duck a chance to relive the glory days and scoop the biggest story of the year by finding the number one war criminal in Bosnia – the Fox (Ljubomir Kerekes).
With the network VP’s kid (Jesse Eisenberg) in tow they set off to find the Fox and break the story. But what starts out as a wild goose chase soon becomes deadly serious as the threesome deal with events from the past, Simon’s own agenda, unfriendly natives, and an ever-increasing list of those who mistakenly take them for a C.I.A. hit squad and wish to offer their assistance including a UN officer (Mark Ivanir) and the girlfriend (Diane Kruger) of one of the guards which lead them so close to their prey they begin to ask themselves how come the C.I.A., who have been searching for months, can’t find this man?
The performances across the board are outstanding. Much like his role in The Hoax Gere provides a central character who deludes himself and others to reach his goals. The backstory involving Marda (Kristina Krepela) and his breakdown are excellently woven into the film and provide the character with a necessary emotional center that shows him as more than just a bum and glory hound. Howard is terrific as usual and young Mr. Eisenberg holds his own with pair, and provides the most surprising and humorous scene of the movie by telling an outrageous lie in a dark tunnel in the dead of night.
I also must praise the creators of the film for shooting in Croatia and Bosnia. The film looks and feels authentic, and not like Vancouver, because it was shot in the locations where this story took place. The look and feel of the actual locations, filled with extras from that area, help sell the story and the pain and loss that it has seen over the years. Writer/director Richard Shepard (“The Matador”) has now created two terrific and surprising films and I, for one, can’t wait until he returns to making feature films. (His last movie was a documentary short about the life of renowned character actor John Cazale.)
The film begins with a statement that only the most absurd parts of the story are true. I think there’s more than a little truth there. Those who want 100-percent accuracy in something like this are bound to be disappointed (check here for some of the real story or check out Scott Anderson’s original Esquire piece on which the film is based), but those with an open mind will find an intriguing story, based only in part on fact, that will make them think, question, and wonder about events around the globe, and how the U.S. acts and responds to these situations, then this is the film for you.