Review: The Hunter's Prayer

The Hunter's Prayer
6 10

PLOT: An assassin (Sam Worthington) sent to kill a teenage-girl (Odeya Rush) has a crisis of conscience, and finds himself targeted by his former employer.

REVIEW: Given the premise, audiences won’t be surprised to learn that THE HUNTER’S PRAYER, with its “hitman with a heart of gold” twist adds absolutely nothing new to the genre. It’s been done over and over, from NIKITA, to LEON, THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS, and recently JOHN WICK. It’s about as familiar a trope as “tough guy cop avenging his partner.” Disposable, right?

Action fans will know that’s not necessarily true. Even if they’re unoriginal, a decent programmer can sometime scratch just the right itch, and THE HUNTER’S PRAYER, despite its modest budget, is a pretty good one. The credit should probably go to director Jonathan Mostow, a solid journeyman with some good product under his belt, like BREAKDOWN, U-571, and the better-than-you-remember TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (especially compared to the last two sequels).

Mostow keeps things chugging right along, with the ninety-minute run-time meaning a near total lack of flab. It gets started right away, with the heroine’s parents being murdered within sixty seconds of the studio logo, and Sam Worthington’s anti-hero, immediately, stalking Odeya Rush through a packed nightclub in Switzerland. It quickly escalates into a solid gun-fight car chase, with him deciding to rescue the girl from her pursuers, who he’s initially working with, leading to a violent flight across Europe (with some good local atmosphere thrown in for good measure).

Worthington, who never quite worked out as an A-list leading man, makes a good case for himself as a future grizzled action hero as he gets older. About forty now, and slightly more weathered than in his AVATAR days (which are about to come again with the sequels maybe being on the way), he looks the part, and moves well. One interesting bit is that he’s a hardcore heroin addict, with the chase stopping every now and then so he can shoot up, and addiction the baddies use to their advantage. He’s suitably tortured, and comes-off as a more believable kind of low-life killer than usual.

Mostly a two hander, THE HUNTER’S PRAYER has an asset in Odeya Rush as the girl everyone’s hunting, and she wisely underplays it a bit, a solid contrast to how it might otherwise be. You like her, making Worthington’s choice easier to swallow, given that it puts him in the cross-hairs of seemingly every killer in Europe.

The action beats are good, with Mostow opting for a down-and-dirty style, with vicious hand-to-hand scraps, quick chases, and chaotic gunfights. They, wisely, don’t try to ape JOHN WICK, going instead for a gritty, PAYBACK kind of vibe. My only issue is that the baddie, played by “Downton Abbey’s” Allen Leech is too cartoonishly evil. Given that Oren Moverman is among the screenwriters, you’d expect a better, less typical threat (with him the kind of baddie who inexplicably shoots his own henchmen). Of the villains, “Transparent’s” Amy Landecker, as the all-business second-in-command, comes off the best just on the merits of how atypical her casting is.

While it’s strictly B-fare, and not especially creative, THE HUNTER’S PRAYER is a solid action programmer, and worth checking-out for old-school action fans. I had a good time with it, and sometimes this kind of lower-rent type shoot-em-up hits the spot. It’s not a bad VOD rental at all.

Source: JoBlo.com



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