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Old 03-19-2010, 11:08 PM
Andy Tennant's The Bounty Hunter

Here's the link to the published version of the review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:

The Bounty Hunter (2010)

Andy Tennant's "The Bounty Hunter" takes what could have been an interesting premise and stretches it out into a nearly two-hour tedious exercise. In its overly-bloated runtime, it offers little in the way of entertainment mainly because the material doesn't require nearly this much time, so we end up with a lot of excess fluff. Isn't there a lesson to be learned here? If you have a lot of excess material in your story, it will easily cause it to meander. I guess Tennant and Writer Sarah Thorp never learned that.

The story involves an ex-cop, Milo (Gerard Butler), who is now a bounty hunter, bringing in criminals for money, and Nicole (Jennifer Aniston), a reporter who is on the trail of a big story. She is on her way to court to settle a charge when she suddenly has to go see about a lead, making the judge issue a bench warrant for her arrest. By sheer fate (or sheer contrivance), the job is given to Milo, who just happens to be Nicole's ex-husband. What seems like an easy job turns into a much bigger deal than he expected.

Tedious really becomes the key word to take away from this film. It never really comes close to being even remotely funny. The silence in the theater only goes to prove it. It bases most of its humor around the interaction between Butler and Aniston, trying to make amusing situations by having him attempt to bring her to jail, but it all just feels so flat and forced. It doesn't help that they don't have much chemistry between them in the first place.

Butler has his charms, and is probably the best thing about this film, but Aniston never had any in the first place. Plus her "acting" leaves much to be desired. At least Butler looked like he was enjoying himself despite the lousy material. When it comes to the sentimental moments between the two, again, it feels forced because of their lack of chemistry. You're aware you're watching a "buddy comedy" from the start, and you never stop thinking that.

Perhaps thinking that the audience wouldn't be into the main plotline, there are a couple of subplots thrown in to help you forget about it for awhile, but all they do is stretch the film out even more. The story that Nicole is working on involves a suspicious death that was ruled a suicide, but she thinks could have been something else. Another involves a couple of hoodlums trying to collect a gambling debt that Milo owes. One of these threads ends up going nowhere while the other gets wrapped up very quickly by the end just so the main story could finish.

Even when it is concentrating on the main story it manages to get sidetracked by completely unnecessary scenes such as when Nicole makes a bet with Milo that he can take $500 from her and turn it into $10,000 in a casino. If he does, he would let her go. If not, he can still take her to jail. For some reason, Milo doesn't stop to think that he would end up having more to gamble with when he turns in Nicole for the $5,000 reward.

The most entertainment "The Bounty Hunter" has to offer is in the repetitive scenes in which Nicole tries to escape from Milo. There's a scene where he catches her multiple times at a racetrack, stuffs her into the trunk of his car, only to let her out after she lights a flare. Again, Milo doesn't stop to think, this time about what's in his trunk that she could possibly use for escape. Remember, this guy was supposedly a cop.

At least this wasn't the painfully-unfunny type of comedy like "Cop Out" or "She's Out of My League." This one merely takes an interesting idea for a story, but doesn't know what to do with it. It's hard to say if the material would have worked even if Aniston had been replaced. The script was just so heavily clichéd that it seems like it would be difficult for it to be made into a good film with anyone as the leads, especially since you can always tell the exact direction the film is heading.

You just know those sentimental scenes where they talk about the past have got to come sooner or later. They wonder if it was a mistake to get divorced, or to get married in the first place. We've seen them fight throughout most of the film, so of course we can tell how they really feel about each other. If only the filmmakers could have made it less tedious and more entertaining, then we might have actually cared about the characters. In the end, "The Bounty Hunter" is a forgettable film that offers no reward. 2/4 stars.
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