a critiQal film review The Hunted (2003)

  • DVD
  • Vudu

Plot: L. T. (Jones) has been living a pretty peaceful life the past few years, since he’s retired. He used to be an instructor for the military - he trained men to kill ...quietly and efficiently. When a couple of hunters are ritualistically murdered, he’s called back in to take a look - because it looks like it could be one of the people he trained, Aaron (Del Toro).

678 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 23s)
  • ...this rip-off of The Fugitive isn't worth anyone's time.

When I first heard about The Hunted, I was pretty sure I’d seen this concept before. I mean, Tommy Lee Jones leading a manhunt to track down one guy? Hmm…can anyone say The Fugitive (1993)? Or how about it’s sequel, U.S. Marshals? It seemed to me the only difference was that this time around, the guy was actually guilty.

So, could The Fugitive (1993), without the innocence factor, be any good, or would it just be a piece of crap? I figured I’d check it out, just to see for myself.

Tommy Lee Jones is starting to look a bit too old for action films like The Hunted. His graying beard, coupled with his more-evident-than-ever wrinkles, are starting to show the falsity of these films (It makes one wonder if Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) will be any good by the same token, since Harrison Ford is getting up in years as well. Hopefully, Harrison will age more gracefully than Tommy Lee, ala Sean Connery or someone like that).

Tommy Lee is starting to look a bit silly in action films, and should start taking roles that fit him a little bit better – something that requires more sitting down, for instance. That glaring fact is evident throughout The Hunted, and overrides even his acting, which, as usual, is pretty good. It’s not up to par with his greatest work, but he does manage to still eke out a decent performance here. If only the makeup artist could have accomplished the same!

Benicio Del Toro, who I last saw in Snatch, turns in a decent performance as the killer who has lost his grip on reality. In the inevitable comparisons to Harrison Ford, however, he doesn’t stand a chance.

Harrison took his role and made it his own forever, and Benicio (along with Wesley Snipes of U.S. Marshals for that matter) are just pretenders to the throne.

Plus, Benicio seems a bit aloof during The Hunted, even during the crucial scenes that help show where his character lost his grip on sanity. It leaves the viewer feeling somewhat aloof as well, and keeps the viewer at a distance, rather than being totally engrossed in the film.

The plot, as I’d guessed from the preview, is basically The Fugitive (1993) without the innocence, coupled with a bit more hack and slash. The innocence (coupled with Harrison’s unbelievable job in the role) were what attracted viewers to the character on the run in The Fugitive (1993).

In The Hunted, we’re supposed to side with Tommy Lee, which I believe is a mistake. That was a main drawing theme for viewers, letting them sympathize with the hero. Tommy Lee is usually pretty easy to sympathize with, but we don’t really have a reason to sympathize with him here. His character kind of jumps into the fray, and stays with it, even though he doesn’t really seem to want to. If he doesn’t want to, why should we, the viewers, want him to?

There should really have been something letting us know why he was staying with it, rather than having us just assume various reasons. It didn’t really need to be spelled out, but some sort of hint would have been nice. Sure, he could have been doing it out of guilt, since he trained the guy, or maybe he thought he was the only one who could do it? Whatever it was, it seems to have gotten lost in the translation somewhere.

Because of this confusion, The Hunted seems to just have been built to show scenes of Del Toro and Jones fighting one-on-one. And who knows? Maybe it was. Since we don’t really know why Jones is there, along with Del Toro’s lack of feeling, even during the traumatic scenes that supposedly shaped his character, make the climactic scenes become largely uninteresting, no matter how many times they slash and hack at each other.

All in all, if you’re looking for The Hunted, go watch The Fugitive (1993) instead.

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