Director: Richard Shepard
Initially named Spring Break in Bosnia-- Wag the Dog meets Three Kings with this film, based on a nonfiction Esquire article by Scott Anderson that begins with a warning to audiences that only the most ridiculous parts of the story are true. Matador director Richard Shepard creates a deft screenplay adaptation brought vividly to life by his cast which finds Richard Gere as a once great journalist named Simon who has a Network styled freak-out while reporting on the war in Bosnia and it’s caught on a live feed to America, filmed by his friend and cameraman Duck (Terrence Howard). Picking up years later, we meet Duck now given a safe, profitable living working for the network who returns to Bosnia with the anchorman to film the anniversary of the end of the war, along with young, aspiring journalist and Harvard graduate Benjamin (Jesse Eisenberg) who is the network president’s son following his coattails. Once in Bosnia, he reunites with Simon, now trying to eek out a living with freelance journalism, but soon Simon gets Duck on the hook by explaining that he knows the whereabouts of “The Fox,” Bosnia’s most notorious war criminal—the man who has evaded NATO, the CIA, the UN and every bounty hunter around the globe. While there’s no doubt that Simon has lost a few marbles, Duck realizes he’s crazy enough that he may be telling the truth and he cancels his vacation with his beautiful girlfriend and goes along for the ride, with Benjamin trying to learn everything he can from the seasoned news veterans. Alternately funny, shocking and scary, with excellent performances that keep us dazzled, The Hunting Party makes an uneven but addictive blend that is quick to get news savvy audience members involved within the first five minutes of Howard’s narration and we’re on board for the entire outing. Whereas The Matador seemed like a great character exercise and a film created to buck genre conventions, The Hunting Party is a nice cynical (yet believable since the source material is true) throwback to the 70’s Vietnam era films but it’s incredibly timely today given its release now with the state of our political climate today that finds us involved in two wars and grappling with our disappointing inability to find another diabolical mastermind.