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The Hunted

movie reviewvideo review out of 4


*Also starring: Connie Nielsen, Jenna Boyd, Leslie Stefanson



Review by Jerry Saravia
1 star out of 4

William Friedkin's "The Hunted" could be aptly retitled "Hide and Seek." There is the hunter and the hunted, and all they do is hide from each other and then get into prolonged knife fights. Seek and you shall find, and thus you shall be pierced by sharp knives. I hate to think that after one hour and forty minutes, the best that "The Hunted" could do was remind me there was nothing besides hiding, seeking, maiming, and bloodily violent hand-to-hand combat.

Benicio Del Toro plays Aaron Hallam, an Army agent who specializes in killing his prey with superbly timed skill. Tommy Lee Jones is Lt. Bonham, a specialized tracker whose job is to train Army soldiers to kill using hand-to-hand combat. Aaron is seen in the opening sequence fighting the Serbs in Kosovo. He systematically eliminates a Serb commander with his trusty knife. He is obviously affected by the war and can't seem to dispel images of an innocent child seen standing near the corpses. So he heads out to Portland, Oregon and begins killing deer hunters! The retired Lt. Bonham is called in to service to help find him, which he does a lot quicker than the FBI does. Bonham used to train Aaron and knows his every step being an efficient tracker and killer himself. He also mentions that Aaron might cannibalize his victims after perusing crime scene photographs of disemboweled bodies. I wonder why this fact was omitted from the rest of the film.

Every scene thrives on sheer implausibility. A chase through city streets and forest hills where the grizzled lieutenant somehow knows Aaron's every single move made me think the lieutenant was psychic. Then there is the train sequence that leads to a bridge sequence where Aaron climbs the top of the bridge to only jump a few hundred feet into the water. Then he forges a serrated knife at a construction site. Somehow the lieutenant's psychic powers lead him to the construction site where he finds the spot where Aaron forged his knife! Oh, the lieutenant also makes a handy knife himself. And there are logs used as booby traps in the exact spot in the woods where Aaron wants him to be! How convenient!

"The Hunted" is beautifully shot and composed with lovingly choreographed shots of leaves, dirt, snow, landscapes, cityscapes with clearly drawn close-ups of Jones and Del Toro's faces. Friedkin also knows how to handle hand-held camera shots better than anybody (lest we forget his classic "French Connection") thanks to superb cinematography by Caleb Daschnel. The action scenes are also well-shot and choreographed though slightly unbelievable. But this is a pointless exercise in nothingness. Aaron and Bonham lack character development so that we have no clue, no insight into their lives and thus care almost nothing about them. This is certainly a waste of time for Jones and Del Toro, two of the more charismatic, powerful actors in the cinema right now - how can they play characters devoid of any single dimension or characteristic? In fact, there is not one character I cared about on any level.

"The Hunted" shows FBI agents getting sliced-and-diced, Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro getting sliced-and-diced, and that is about it. Oh, yes, there are some metaphors regarding wolves with injured paws (animals represent no harm to their own breed), children symbolizing innocence (don't they symbolize that in general?), single women who hate lovers for leaving them for extended periods, and so on. It's an old cliche for a bad movie but I do not mind repeating it: "The Hunted" is a beautiful bore. Hide and seek a better movie.

Copyright 2003 Jerry Saravia

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