Movie Review: ‘The Hunting Party’

I was a teenager living in Europe when the Kosovo War was coming to an end and remember the talk surrounding it, the efforts taken to round up the last remaining war criminals. Watching a movie where a team of journalists tracks one down is a new and amazing perspective for anyone who remembers this time.

Richard Gere is Simon Hunt, a former war correspondent shamed after a nervous breakdown live on camera. He then leaves to work freelance for a variety of networks, slipping further and further into oblivion. Terrence Howard is Duck, Simon’s old cameraman and best friend; Jesse Eisenberg is Ben Strauss, a rookie journalist and the network boss’ son.

After Simon receives information about the whereabouts of Boghdanovic, aka ‘The Fox’, a wanted Serbian war criminal, he enlists their help to land an interview after which, potentially, ‘The Fox’ would be handed over to the CIA. Here is the trailer:

The three travel to Celebici, on the border of Republica Srpska (Serbia) and Montenegro, a village thought to be harbouring ‘The Fox’ and his men.

There, they discover that this nest quite likely ‘The Fox”s hole and that the local Serbs are proud of what he attempted to do, proud of the mass killings and graves of innocent civilians. Once more, the shocking reality of a genocide that lasted so many years is apparent to us all, in technicolour.

With a $5 million reward on his head, one would assume ‘The Fox”s capture would be paramount. What these three uncover however, is that they are in the middle of a giant web of deceit, corruption and struggles for power.

The most striking aspect of this movie is in the simplicity of the objective – Simon needs to score the perfect interview to be welcomed back into a world he was banished from.

The terrifying reality of the Bosnian Genocide is apparent throughout this film – not for one moment are we allowed to forget the devastating human loss and tragedy. These three are guided by a moral compass, without too much care for the law or the consequences of their actions.

Meeting officials from the UN, CIA, NATO and The Hague, the bigger picture about the genocide becomes clear – our leaders aren’t concerning themselves with the capture and prosecution of these criminals.

They merely don’t want any repetitions – a childish perspective to adopt but what director Richard Shepard suggests is that this is not far off the truth.

Indian Officer: War criminals? Believe it or not, we don’t even have a copy of the complete indictment list.
Duck: You don’t?
Indian Officer: [hopefully] No. Do you have a copy? I could always Xerox it. Miriam, is the copier working again?
Duck: Look, word has it there’s a bunch of them living right here in Foca.
Indian Officer: Could be. Unfortunately, we’re here to reform the police force, not hunt for war criminals.
Duck: But it wouldn’t be much hunting. I mean, most of them are listed right in the phone book.
Indian Officer: As I said, we’re not authorized to arrest war criminals.
Duck: You *are* the international police, right?
Indian Officer: Yes. Under the flag of the United Nations.
Benjamin: I thought the U.N. *was* looking for war criminals.
Indian Officer: We are. Aggressively. There’s a five million dollar reward, you know?
Benjamin: But you said you don’t have an indictment list.
Indian Officer: We don’t! Donut?

Comedy, yes. False? Not really. The information we need to bring many war criminals to trial is readily available – whether or not it is of our ‘mutual benefit’ to be provided with it is another matter.

One of the movie’s most compelling messages is this: never take what you are offered by your officials at face value for there is always a story behind what we are told, always something hidden. Exposing that hidden truth may cost you your life, but as a journalist, Simon Hunt is more than willing to take that risk.

He braves near-constant gunfire death threats for the chance to come face to face with a killer and a thug.

Even if you don’t know much about what happened in Kosovo, or don’t much care, this will touch you. The human face of this conflict is not forgotten.

Their pain becomes ours, as does their fight for the truth and their need for justice. If there was ever a movie which explained the true meaning and goal of an international correspondent, this is it.

The moment you start drinking that Bosnian brandy, the devil’s sitting in the corner, just laughing.

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