The Hurricane

1999

The Hurricane

Critics Consensus

Thanks in large part to one of Denzel Washington's most powerful on-screen performances, The Hurricane is a moving, inspirational sports drama, even if it takes few risks in telling its story.

83%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 113

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 55,604
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The Hurricane Photos

Movie Info

In 1966, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was a top-ranked middleweight boxer whom many fight fans expected to become world champion. When three people were shot to death in a bar in Paterson, New Jersey, Carter and his friend John Artis, driving home from another club in Paterson, were stopped and questioned by police. Although the police asserted that Carter and Artis "were never suspects," a man named Alfred Bello, himself a suspect in the killings, claimed that Carter and Artis were present at the time of the murders. On the basis of Bello's testimony, Carter and Artis were convicted of murder, and Carter was given three consecutive life sentences. Throughout the trial, Carter proclaimed his innocence, saying that his African-American race and work as a civil rights activist were the real reasons for his conviction. In 1974, Bello and Arthur Bradley, who also claimed that Carter was present at the scene of the crimes, recanted their testimony, but Carter and Artis were reconvicted. In the early 1980s, Brooklyn teenager Lesra Martin worked with a trio of Canadian activists to push the State of New Jersey to reinvestigate Carter's case; in 1985, a Federal District Court ruled that the prosecution in Carter's second trial committed "grave constitutional violations" and that his conviction was based on racism rather than facts. Carter was finally freed, and he summed up his story by saying, "Hate got me into this place, love got me out." The Hurricane is based on Carter's incredible true story and stars Denzel Washington as Carter, Vicellous Shannon as Lesra Martin, and John Hannah, Liev Schreiber and Deborah Unger as the Canadian activists. Veteran filmmaker Norman Jewison directed. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

Denzel Washington
as Rubin Carter
John Hannah
as Terry Swinton
Deborah Kara Unger
as Lisa Peters
Liev Schreiber
as Sam Chaiton
David Paymer
as Myron Bedlock
Dan Hedaya
as Det. Della Pesca
Harris Yulin
as Leon Friedman
Debbi Morgan
as Mae Thelma
Clancy Brown
as Lt. Jimmy Williams
Rod Steiger
as Judge Sarokin
Garland Whitt
as John Artis
Vincent Pastore
as Alfred Bello
Al Waxman
as Warden
David Lansbury
as U.S. Court Prosecutor
Chuck Cooper
as Earl Martin
Marcia Bennett
as Jean Wahl
Beatrice Winde
as Louise Cockersham
William Raymond
as Paterson Judge
Merwin Goldsmith
as Judge Larner
John A. MacKay
as Man at Falls
Donnique Privott
as Boy at the Falls
Moynan King
as Tina Barbieri
Gary DeWitt Marshall
as Nite Spot Cabbie
John Christopher Jones
as Reporter at Bar
Gwendolyn Mulamba
as Nite Spot Woman
Richard Davidson
as Paterson Detective
Tonye Patano
as Woman at Prison
Fulvio Cecere
as Paterson Policeman
Phillip Jarrett
as Soldier No. 1 in U.S.O. Club
Rodney "Bear" Jackson
as Soldier No. 2 in U.S.O. Club
Judi Embden
as Woman in U.S.O. Club
Terry Claybon
as Emile Griffith
Ben Bray
as Joey Giordello
Michael Justus
as Joey Cooper
Kenneth McGregor
as Detective at Hospital
Frank Proctor
as Pittsburgh Ring Announcer
Peter Wylie
as Pittsburgh Referee
David Gray
as Pittsburgh TV Announcer
Joe Matheson
as Philadelphia Ring Announcer
Bill Lake
as Philadelphia TV Announcer
Robin Ward
as Reading, PA TV Announcer
Harry Davis
as Reading, PA Referee
Pippa Pearthree
as Patty Valentine
Jean Daigle
as Detective
Robert Lindsay Evans
as Detective at Layfayette Bar
Scott Gibson
as Reporter at Banquet
Ann Holloway
as Cashier
Jim Bearden
as Lieutenant
Bruce McFee
as Prison Guard
Satori Shakoor
as Prison Guard
Zoran Radusinovic
as Prison Guard
Stephen Lee Wright
as Prison Guard
Michael Bodnar
as Prison Guard
Carson Manning
as Prison Guard
Richard Litt
as Prison Guard
Adam Large
as Prison Guard
Douglas E. Hughes
as Prison Guard
Peter Graham
as Prisoner With Camera
Lawrence Sacco
as New Jersey Policeman
David Frisch
as New Jersey Policeman
Ralph Brown
as Federal Court Assistant Prosecutor
Dyron Holmes
as Reporter
Ryan Williams
as Elstan Martin
Bruce Vavrina
as St. Joseph's Doctor
Brenda Braxton
as Dancer with John Artis
Christopher Riordan
as Jury Foreman
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News & Interviews for The Hurricane

Critic Reviews for The Hurricane

All Critics (113) | Top Critics (31)

Audience Reviews for The Hurricane

  • Aug 17, 2013
    "Here comes the story of the Hurricane, the man the authorities came to blame, for a crime he never done; put him in a prison cell, but one time he could have been the champion of the world!" Yeah, maybe that song got carried away when it called Rubin Carter the "number one contender", seeing as how he apparently never ranked higher than third, but hey, that only makes the song even more fitting here, seeing as how this isn't the most accurate portrait of "The Hurricane" either. Besides, there was no way I was not going to make that reference, based on its being a pretty darn good, if somewhat monotonous Bob Dylan song alone. Seriously, Bobby, I dig "Desolation Row" and all, the lyrics are sharp enough to keep you going, but jeez, the mamma jamma is eleven-and-a-half minutes long, so I reckon you could have at least considered breaking that tradition in folk music of barely bothering to keep the song structure somewhat dynamic. There's probably some kind of militant black protestor out there who would be frustrated by my going on and on about someone as white as Bob Dylan, but don't worry, this film isn't that black, as reflected by its starring Denzel Washington and being directed by Norman Jewison, the guy who did stuff like "The Statement", "Moonstruck", "...And Just For All", "Rollerball", "Fiddler on the Roof" and, of course, a rock opera about white Jesus. Man, you win the Oscar for "In the Heat of the Night", and all of a sudden, people are looking to you to tell us about black problems. Oh well, Jewison still had his heart in this project enough to make a pretty decent film (Hey, in this liberal day and age, you better not half-bake things if you're a white guy telling of the struggles of a black guy), which isn't to say that this film is the world-class champion that Rubin Carter apparently was, according to Bob Dylan, taking more than a few heavy blows. Running just shy of two-and-a-half hours, this film, at least on paper, seems to be at in serious danger of collapse into dragging, but the real problem with this film's pacing is all-out unevenness, because even though there are a fair deal of scenes that go bloated by repetitious fat around the edges, just as big, if not a bigger problem is hurrying, which thins out exposition and leaves storytelling to put only so much attention into fleshing out depths. In one too many places, the film feels somewhat slam-banged, almost in the fashion of a TV film or something, even with a hefty length, and that's pretty costly to the full impact of this drama, yet no matter how uneven storytelling may be, it at least keeps consistent in genericism. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's story is about as important as the story of any black person who went what he went through, but if there's anything distinct about Carter's story, this film doesn't tell you, unraveling a familiar tale in a fashion that is often simply formulaic, and just as often, well, borderline trite, which would be fine and all if this racial conflict drama didn't practice its brethren's tradition of taking on subtlety issues. I haven't looked too much into Rubin Carter's story, but from what I gather, this film takes liberties, and if that's the case, then chances are that they are liberties aimed at supplementing thematic depth, seeing as how this film is all but entirely driven by its heavy-handed thematic weight, which is explores in a near-comical fashion that blatantly overemphasizes racial conflicts and black struggles, often at the expense of genuine characterization, whose superficiality actually proves to be detrimental to the impact of this film's worthy themes. Sure, the thematic overbearingness settles down a bit, or is at least gotten used to, after a while, but on the whole, this promising biopic isn't about Carter's relationships, military service, or even, believe it or not, his boxing career, just about race issues, thus making Carter not much more than a component to themes dealing with struggles against dehumanization, which ironically dehumanizes our lead, while reflecting director Norman Jewison's being too passionate to tell this tale. Jewison is just too ambitious for his own good, so much so that he ends up betraying his vision more than doing it as much justice as it should be given, while leaving you to meditate upon other glaring issues, until the final product ends up so tattered that it comes dangerously close to collapsing into mediocrity. Of course, no matter how messy the film gets, what it does right it does well enough to achieve genuine decency, which is shaky, but ultimately stands, even within visual style, at least to a certain extent. The film is lensed by the great Roger Deakins, so it's rather disappointing to find that many areas in this film's cinematography is kind of flat, but someone like Deakins can have his photographic eye blinded for only so long, and sure enough, for every simplistic area in the film's visual style, there is a subtly tasteful play with color and lighting that proves to be both attractive and complimentary to the tone of a certain area in storytelling. Again, there's only so much kick to visual style, but when the film's photographic value picks up, it ends up doing a better job of defining the range of this film's depth than Norman Jewison's direction, which I suppose is good, because the celebration of this film's story needs as much flavor as it can get. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's story is a pretty familiar one, and much of its value is lost at the hands of superficiality and heavy-handedness to the interpretation of this worthy tale, but the point is that this story is worthy, not just because its thematic depth is pretty important, but because it boasts a legal and dramatic juiciness that is much too often betrayed, yet never fully obscured, boasting an immediate degree of intrigue that is, in fact, built upon at times. Norman Jewison's direction is an absolute mess, especially within the first, say, hour-and-a-half of the film, which is almost sloppy enough to drive the film into mediocrity, but there is mediocrity during the first half or so in this film, then even it is barely achieved, because for every hiccup made, there is a moment in which Jewison's directorial thoughtfulness genuinely works as controlled enough to compel. If Jewison is consistent with nothing else, it is a certain degree of entertainment value, which holds you over through all of the lowlights in this drama until things start to pick up enough to keep your somewhat compelled, even with the pacing, expository and subtlety issues, but what truly secures the final product beyond mediocrity is, of course, the acting. Sure, there are plenty of good performances within the unevenly used supporting cast, but the man who really impresses is leading man Denzel Washington, who is, of course, playing Denzel Washington, but does so particularly well, boasting enough genuine charisma and inspired dramatic range to bypass characterization superficiality and bring life to the primary focus of this character study, which is largely made effective by Washington. Sure, Washington, as the main portrayer of a character, rather than the main teller of a character study, can do only so much to carry the drama's effectiveness, but in spite of some underwriting to acting material, Washington ends up doing a lot, saving a lead who could have fallen flat as somewhat disingenuous enough to sustain your investment, whose being further reinforced by what is, in fact, done right in the telling of a worthy tale saves the final product as decent, if rather underwhelming. To close this case, unevenness in pacing both bloats storytelling repetitiously and rushes much expository depth into disconcerting thinness, which joins conventionalism and overambition in making overwhelming subtlety issues almost grating enough to drive the final product into mediocrity, but through tasteful moments in cinematography, highlights in direction and a strong performance by Denzel Washington, Rubin Carter's story of injustice is done enough justice for Norman Jewison's "The Hurricane" to stand as an entertaining and generally intriguing drama, in spite of its considerable flaws. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Apr 22, 2013
    Norman Jewison's The Hurricane is a pulse pounding drama about middle weight boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter who was wrongly imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. Denzel Washington stars in the lead role, and he gives a stunning performance, and it ranks among his strongest of his career. This is a film that boasts a strong story with equally great acting. Norman Jewison crafts a worthwhile film that is a near flawless biopic. Like I previously stated, Washington delivers here, and he carries the film. He is the perfect choice to play Rubin Carter. The film has its flaws, as it tends to get a bit too dramatic, luckily it does manage to tone it down to make this film a well crafted Drama. The story is compelling and entertaining from start to finish. What I love the most about Denzel Washington is how he delivers a performance. He is a fine actor who is very talented, and he yet Again brings a stunning performance. With his powerful performance as Rubin Carter, he elevates the film's strength to overcome its flaws. This is a great film that is worth seeing if you love Washington's work. The film is powerful and poignant. Aside the plot, which is well layered, the film does carry an important message and it will certainly carry on with viewers. The message is that if society does you a wrong, in this case, a wrongful murder conviction, then it's worth fighting for if you strongly believe that person is innocent, and in the case of The Hurricane, it shows how crooked the system is and how right can prevail. Norman Jewison has made a fine drama that tells a very good story and is elevated by a wonderful cast of terrific talented. If you're looking for one of Denzel Washington's finest roles, you will be more than satisfied with The Hurricane.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jul 18, 2012
    A story about life, racism, inspiration and boxing, it's based on a true story but however highly altered. The plot was touching and motivative. It's hard to understand how a man can really spend 20 years in jail when he's innocent. Denzel was simply amazing in this film, the sub-plot was slightly unrealistic but still maintained a good message. The final shot was beautiful, truly enjoyable.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Feb 21, 2011
    The Hurricane is a solid film, and could have benefited from a three hour run time. There are so many aspects to this story and so much ground to cover that I think director Norman Jewison might have slightly edited himself out of an Oscar. That's not to say that this isn't a well paced, well put together film, but it's missing that "wow" factor; it's hard to explain, but it's that feeling you get when the credits role and you're still sitting in your seat captivated by what you just saw. I think it's because the film under-develops some of its characters. I wanted to know more about the racist cop who frames Denzel Washington's character, Rubin Carter, for murder. The guy's a prick no doubt, but I wanted to know more about why he does what he does, instead of just seeing him as Satan Incarnate. Also, I wanted to know more about the Canadians who fought tooth and nail to appeal the case; they seemed just as important as Rubin Carter, but the movie doesn't give them enough screen time - but then again, I might be biased because I am a Canadian. Other than that, a solid effort, and Denzel Washington gave another brilliant performance; one of his finest even to this day.
    Edward B Super Reviewer

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