Since World War II spawned its share of war-themed movies, both direct and indirect, it's only natural that our era does the same, especially given that the Iraq War has gone on for several years now. A lot of movies over the past four or five years have dealt with the attacks in New York, soldiers in war, prisoners of war, and endless variations on these and other themes. Even the recent Western 3:10 to Yuma, hidden underneath its character-driven gun slinging, has a little something to say about the occupation. Most movies tackle their subject head-on, such as the numerous documentaries of the past few years and films like United 93 and World Trade Center as well as war films about other eras like Letters from Iwo Jima and Days of Glory. How refreshing, then, to see a movie like Richard Shepard's The Hunting Party, which has on its mind the topic of war criminals still at large. It wants to know why the U.S. has been unable to find certain outlaws, when just about any civilian with a passport, the price of a drink and a line of B.S. can do it. But instead of grousing or hand wringing, it becomes a spry, surprising and intelligent comedy.
The movie is told through the point of view of a TV news cameraman nicknamed Duck (Terrence Howard), who once worked together with reporter Simon Hunt (Richard Gere) in any Third World war zone worth covering. Their lives together were dangerous and exciting. They dodged explosions, drank in dive bars and romanced local girls. But when the tragedy got to be too much for Simon, he melted down on the air, effectively ending the relationship. Duck has since been promoted to a highly paid New York studio job, while Simon works for increasingly desperate TV stations so far off the radar that he eventually disappears. For the five-year anniversary of the end of the war in Bosnia, Duck, a polished TV anchorman (a perfectly cast James Brolin) and a network executive's son, Benjamin (Jesse Eisenberg), arrive to cover a routine press conference. Simon is also there, and he convinces Duck to help him cover the story of the decade: finding an infamous war criminal known as The Fox (Ljubomir Kerekes) with a $5 million bounty on his head.