Plot: A cameraman named Duck (Terrence Howard) has followed TV reporter Simon Hunt (Richard Gere) into some of the most dangerous war zones around the world. After an on-air break down, Simon goes off on his own. Five years later, he crosses Duck’s path again in Sarajevo. This time, Simon wants to go after Bosnia’s “most wanted,” a man known as “The Fox.” So he tries to convince Duck and a rookie reporter (Jesse Eisenberg) to go along for the ride. Who’s it for: There is a lot of male bonding in this one, with the story mainly focusing on the back and forth between Gere and Howard. Plus, this film gives a glimpse into trying to report the chaos of war.
Expectations: Gere has been hit or miss with me his whole career, and unfortunately Howard is now as well after an amazing performance in “Hustle & Flow” but not so much with “Pride.”
Richard Gere as Simon Hunt: Although Gere is engaging and able to take the audience from intense to amusing, the character of Simon never struck me as a great journalist. It seems he stumbles onto stories instead of uncovering them. Grade: 7
Terrence Howard as Duck: Cameramen everywhere will fall in love with Howard. He makes Duck the slickest man to get behind the lens. Problem is, he’s too slick. It comes off like he’s putting on a show instead of inhabiting a character. Grade: 5
Jesse Eisenberg as Benjamin: In “The Squid and the Whale,” Eisenberg proved he can act. Here, he proves he can get on your nerves. Lines like, “I just graduated from Harvard and I know something’s up,” come off as annoying. He really feels like a third wheel. Grade: 4
Talking: At its heart, I believe “The Hunting Party” is attempting to show how awful it is that war criminals are just roaming the countryside, but there are too many moments where delivering a cool line takes priority. Grade: 5
Sights and sounds: The film was shot on location, which is a huge plus. But when the connection is made between Simon and his true motivation to go after “The Fox,” it’s a bit of a stretch and a letdown. Grade: 6
“The Hunting Party” feels like an attempted caper in the most serious of circumstances. It’s odd when two highly talented actors are trading one-liners one minute, then dealing with potential death the next. Director Richard Shepard got better results with “The Matador” when he stuck Greg Kinnear with Pierce Brosnan. The most intriguing parts of this film are contained in the voice-over montage in the beginning and a surprise ending, leaving a lot of filler in the middle. And just a rule of thumb, having a serious moment with Chuck Norris’ “Missing in Action” playing in the background on a TV is going to send conflicting messages as to whether the audience should take this film seriously or not.
Overall Grade: 6