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Suspension of disbelief is always hard when a film dramatizes true stories, and not only because the outcome is no surprise. The mind tends to make continual reality checks, which can be downright tiring. Not that every deviation is an irritation: Especially with biography, a little poeticizing is welcome if the filmmaker has gotten the basic facts right.

Not so with Norman Jewison’s biography of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. The only redeeming part of “The Hurricane” is Denzel Washington’s exceptional performance as Carter. Washington makes a commanding figure as the black middleweight boxing championship contender who spent 19 years in prison before his conviction was ultimately overturned by a federal judge. The movie condenses his important story into a two-hour tear-jerker that omits most of the major legal events and characters.

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