Hunting Goodwill: Gere and Howard play buddies in Bosnia.

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The Three Stooges Go to Bosnia could have been an alternate title for The Hunting Party, an odd political thrillerncomedy hybrid mined from an Esquire article by writer-director Richard Shepard. A piece about a handful of journalists attempting to find a war criminal required some tarting-up to be movie-ready, and Shepard isn’t bashful about embellishing; in a fun touch, the end credits do a quick revisit of the film, pointing out who and what are real. But “fun” may not be what most people are looking for in a story about an ethnic cleanser and one man’s need for revenge. Network cameraman Duck (Terrence Howard) is in Sarajevo with a just-out-of-J-school reporter, Benjamin (Jesse Eisenberg), for an easy assignment when he’s tracked down by his former partner, Simon (Richard Gere). Simon has become a journalistic cliché—scruffy, drunk, crazed—since an on-air meltdown a decade back left him unemployable. But he’s got a scoop, and he wants Duck to help him report the story he’s sure will get him back in the game: Simon knows where to find the Fox (Ljubomir Kerekeš), the person responsible for the rape, torture, and slaughter of thousands of Bosnian Muslims. So the three travel to the country’s mountains, where they’re immediately threatened and shot at. As Duck and Benjamin shit their pants, Simon admits that he doesn’t really want to interview the Fox—he wants to capture him. OK, not really: It’s all about a girl, and Simon wants to kill the guy who took her away from him. Bumbling and weaponless aren’t good things to be in this situation, and the movie offers some tense, gasp-inducing moments. Its light side can be enjoyable as well, particularly the teasing, best-bud chemistry between Gere (doing a more rumpled version on his manic role in The Hoax) and Howard (who’s charming as always, if excessively laid-back). With the Fox’s real-life counterpart, Radovan Karadžic’, still at large, The Hunting Party isn’t only trying to be compelling, it’s begging to be talked about. But chances are you’ll be less inclined to discuss world affairs than wonder how the hell a pregnant woman’s bloodied corpse could be shown in the same film that brings out a midget in a pink tracksuit for laughs.