The Hurricane (***) – After several years of seeing movies in the theater and on TV, one gets the sense that they’ve just about seen it all and every subsequent film either improves on or destroys ideas from previous movies. We’ve seen black-and-white boxing in Raging Bull. We’ve seen prison scenes in The Shawshank Redemption. We’ve seen courtroom scenes, well, at least twice a year in different courtroom dramas. And we get a little bit of everything in The Hurricane, save for a performance by the great Denzel Washington.His character, The Hurricane was in early danger of being reduced to merely a supporting character in the film as his three Canadian and young Black saviors begin to dominate the story. But the film wisely shifts its focus to the life of Rubin Carter and how he turned his rage into a boxing career and subsequent wrongful arrest. Where the film works are in these scenes, as we watch Carter’s troubled life and multiple prison sentences. Norman Jewison also approaches the prison scenes strictly from the perspective of Carter, avoiding the routine lock-up footage that we’re so used to seeing. How Carter survives in his mind makes for original prison sequences. But at the midway point of the film, we start to focus more on the relationship between Carter and the young boy who discovers his story at a used book sale. These scenes have some well-written moments, but I didn’t care much for the actor playing the boy. He talks so tough at times when he doesn’t need to be and ends up talking like a character out of Fat Albert, but Denzel pulls us through, aging without the use of heavy prosthetics, using simply the reflexes in his face and its incredible. While dealing with the relationship between Carter and his newfound friends, an underlying racial tension is developed as the Hurricane has learned to mistrust the white man. Through their help and an underdeveloped friendship with another inmate, Carter comes to understand that not all white people are racist and the Canadians recognize that not all black men are murderers. The ironic footnote to all of this is that the film’s director, Norman Jewison, was the original director of the Malcolm X biopic with Denzel in the lead. The eventual director of that piece, Spike Lee, was outraged and demanded that a white director has no right to make a film about a black leader. Well, I guess two wrongs don’t exactly make it white.One of The Hurricane’s problems is its pacing. I’ve always been a supporter of longer films to give depth to its characters and earn their emotional endings, but at 146 minutes (not the 125 minutes that some papers advertise), The Hurricane feels every minute long. Add into that all the things we’ve been witness to before and you have the makings of a film that could have fallen well below the Oscar-season expectations everyone was hoping for. But the one thing that transcends the material and that we haven’t seen before is Denzel’s amazing performance and that alone is worth the trip to the theater.