The Hunted (2003)
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Review Date: March 12, 2003
Director: William Friedkin
Writer: David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths, Art Monterastelli
Producers: James Jacks, Ricardo Mestres
Benicio Del Toro as Aaron Hallam
Tommy Lee Jones as L.T. Bonham
Connie Nielsen as Abby Durrel
A man, trained to be a killer by the U.S. Army, is loose and seemingly running around killing folks who he believes are after him. His mentor/teacher is the only guy who can apparently track him and so with the help of the FBI, the older man sets out on a journey to capture the wanted killer. Hunting ensues.
A fun "man on the run" flick which utilizes pretty much every technique used in every other "man on the run" movie before it, spices it all up with ol' faithful delivering his lines like he was starring in the third installment of THE FUGITIVE and Billy Friedkin showing the world that he can pump out a full-blown, fast-paced, hollow entertainment vehicle with the best of them. Is any of that a good thing? Well, I personally had a blast watching this movie going through the motions with two fun leads, a decent backstory, some grazed-over moral implications (if you train someone to kill for a living, should you also take some of the blame for his actions?) and most of all, a relentless pace that basically edits itself out of any scene that might actually turn into exposition and cuts directly to Del Toro in another spot, being sought after by dozens of incompetent law enforcement officers. I guess it's one of those flicks that doesn't really hold together if you sit down to think about it too much afterwards (how the heck does he have the time to create all of them damn traps??), but as it's moving along, you tend to go with it, and seeing as Del Toro is charismatic and Lee Jones, always ready to retort with a quick one-liner, I was never bored or taken out of its overall mission.

The plot? Very simple. Bad man on the loose and everyone and their grandpa is out looking for him, only the "tracker" (that would be Lee Jones and his bloodhound-esque talents) is the one who "understands" his ways and always seems to find him no matter what. Seriously, this guy is beyond ridiculously talented or just badly written because Del Toro gets away over a dozen times, but no matter what the circumstance or the location, Jones will ultimately always look over at a patch of grass or a tree and immediately know if he went that a way or that a way. Hilarious stuff! Unfortunately, all of the secondary players are pretty bad, especially the FBI agents, all of whom come off as either incompetent or foolish (and yes, I'm referring to their acting!). The cute chick leading the pack was the most useless of all (holy shit, that was GLADIATOR's Connie Nielsen?!?), but as much as I hate to admit it, looked damn cute, which always scores a few easy points in my pants (leave me alone...it's that time of the month). The film also features a handful of entertaining action sequences, especially the hand-to-hand stuff between Jones and Toro (bloody as heck!) and plenty of chases, chases and yeah...chases! The plot also tosses a couple of flashbacks our way so that we "get to know" the characters, but really, it just felt like it was missing about 15 minutes along the way (yes, I actually wanted it to be longer!). I get the feeling that we will be seeing a truckload of "deleted scenes" in this film's DVD release (especially in terms of Del Toro's past, his relationship with the woman and kid in his life, etc...).

All in all, I am a little torn by this film because I do recognize that it was pretty clichéd (I joked to my friend about how it would be funny if things ended up near some waterfalls at some point (a la FUGITIVE) and low and behold...there they were!) and swiss-cheesed with some patches of bad dialogue here and there, but the action/suspense was unyielding, the two actors engaging in their own right and the story, as straight-forward and uncomplicated as it was, "deep" enough to deliver at least one message about the "training of killers" and society's responsibilities to them afterwards (yeah, I actually gave a shit about Del Toro throughout). Not the greatest movie in the careers of either actor or director, but certainly a decent return on anyone's one hour and a half investment in terms of entertainment. Yes...my parents will love it!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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