The Hunting Party

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
The Hunting Party Movie Poster Image
Hunt for war criminal full of violence, language.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 103 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Journalists lie, cheat, and steal in order to get their stories (though they adopt a self-satisfying morality by the film's end). Peace monitors and police studiously avoid confrontations. War criminals get away with murder and rape.

Violence

Film opens in a war zone, complete with shooting, explosions, gunfire, blood, injuries, and hectic camerawork; the following war scenes are more of the same. An especially horrific scene shows a pregnant woman dead, her fetus ripped from her belly (very bloody). Several discussions of rape and murder. One of the fabled killers has a special "killing axe," which he uses with gusto. In a torture scene, victims are hung from ceiling, knives and an axe are brandished, and there's a lot of hitting and yelling. Villains hunt fuzzy little foxes in the woods. In the final scene, it's suggested that the villain gets his "just desserts."

Sex

Women's cleavage and naked breasts are occasionally visible; Simon shows his naked bottom (as a goodbye). Duck's professional success is indicated by his casual liaisons with women (kissing and more breasts visible). Frequent sexual slang ("balls," "p---y," "dick," "c--k"); discussion of sodomy.

Language

Lots of tough-reporter talk, including lots of "f--k"s (at least 75), as well as "s--t," "ass" and "a--hole," "bitch," "damn," "hell," "bastard," "jerkoff," and "c--ksucker." One use of "c--t." Some colorful phrasing ("he's bald as a turd").

Consumerism

Dunkin' Donuts, Chuck Norris (one of his movies appears on a couple of background TVs).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent cigarette smoking, in bars and under fire in combat zones. Simon appears drunk on camera and consequently loses his job. Multiple scenes show journalists drinking (beer, brandy, other liquor) in bars, with interview subjects, and with collaborators. Benjamin appears drunk and stumbling. References to Quaaludes and opium.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Richard Gere action dramedy takes place primarily in violent war zones (Somalia) and post-war zones (Bosnia) that are hotbeds of brutality. Both in the present and in flashbacks, scenes are filled with explosions, shooting, careening cars, and people being wounded and killed. One war criminal wields an axe with particular ferocity and threatens the heroes during a torture scene; a particularly horrific, bloody flashback shows a dead pregnant woman whose baby has been cut out of her. Expect lots of language (particularly "f--k"), some cleavage shots and bare breasts, and frequent smoking and drinking (with some minor drunkenness), with some discussion of drugs.

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Adult Written bylilphiom April 9, 2008
Adult Written byztmcgrath April 9, 2008

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What's the story?

You've heard, of course, that war is hell. But in THE HUNTING PARTY, when Duck (Terrence Howard) says that "war has its bright side as well," he speaks with the sort of authority that comes with experience. "Being that close to death," he says, "being that alive, it's addictive." The movie opens on a Somalian war zone: Amid explosions and small arms fire, Duck, a cameraman, scampers with his TV reporter partner, Simon Hunt (Richard Gere). Duck admires Simon's unflappable world-weariness, and, even more, his commitment to show "truth." When Simon loses that desire and has a meltdown on camera, Duck moves on to a new job and Simon fades away, drinking his way from one war to the next, hoping to make it back into the business he loves. They meet again in Bosnia, a decade after the war. Duck is accompanied by a youngster in need of knowledge: the network VP's son, Benjamin (Jesse Eisenberg). All three proceed to embark on an adventure, pursuing an interview with notorious Bosnian war criminal "the Fox" (Ljubomir Kerekes). Mysterious locals offer warnings, ill-equipped cops avoid engagements, and U.N. monitors declare their inability to do anything, according to their gunless mandate. Through it all, the reporters find themselves, as their mutual bonds and faith in justice build.

Is it any good?

Inspired by a 2000 Esquire magazine article by Scott Anderson, Richard Shepard's The Hunting Party begins with a snarky caution against believing what you see. "Only the most ridiculous parts of this story are true," it advises, yet it generally distrusts viewers to keep up without prodding at every turn. While you could argue that sentimentalizing Simon's original breakdown (it has to do with a lost romance, in brutal fashion) makes a case for his core morality, the effect is to cheapen his investment in what he's calling "truth." The Fox's story is personal for Simon, and so the film loses sight of the context it would seem to care so much about -- the Fox's victims, the Bosnian Muslims and Croats who were raped, tortured, dismembered, and killed.

The story of the Fox -- which indicts international wheelers and dealers who profit from such a man's evasion of "justice," as well as the world leaders who benefit from his fearsome legend -- is obviously meant to suggest both Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Osama Bin Laden. More than once, The Hunting Party raises the specter of Chuck Norris as an example of the cartoonish embodiment of revenge and heroism. Such plots and heroes surely need satirizing, especially as they continue to inform political and military endeavors. Still, The Hunting Party plays smug, ensuring that it misses a range of deserving targets while picking off the easy ones.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the media portrays reporters. Do TV shows and movies make journalism seem like a glamorous career? How realistic do you think that is? What do you think reporting from a war zone is really like? Families can also discuss journalists' responsibilities. Do they have a moral or ethical duty when they see terrible violence or crimes? If so, what is that duty?

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