The Hunted (2003) / Thriller-Action

MPAA Rated: R for strong bloody violence and some language
Running Time: 94 min.

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Connie Nielsen, Jenna Boyd, Leslie Stefanson
Director: William Friedkin

Screenplay: David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths, Art Monterastelli
Review published March 25, 2003

Yet another in the mini-genre of action films where the government has trained someone to be a killing machine, only to have him start killing innocents when he finally snaps.  This isn't a great idea for a film, but with two very credible character actors leading the way, there was the chance for some excitement.  Unfortunately, when those same character actors aren't given roles with any depth, their skills are practically useless, and what could have been a film as exciting as Jones' previous similar effort, THE FUGITIVE, becomes little more than another RAMBO style action vehicle, with about the depth to match.

Tommy Lee Jones plays deep-woods tracker L.T. Bonham, who spends much of his time saving animals from the traps of would-be hunters, while also doing work for the government, turning soldiers into one-man killing machines.  One such man is Aaron Hallam, one of the best of Bonham's pupils, who has a hard time distinguishing the civilians from the bad guys once he has come back from war-torn Yugoslavia.  It's cat-and-mouse, as the teacher and pupil use every skill they have learned to outsmart each other.

Tommy Lee Jones performs well with what little he has to deal with, but Benicio Del Toro, normally a fine actor, somehow doesn't feel right for his part.  Admittedly, they have given him some laughable lines to deliver, which he delivers in a strangely goofy fashion, turning up the chuckle factor with almost every word uttered.  Luckily, there isn't much in dialogue, which I suppose is another element of the film that needed improving.  The main plot drive the story so much, there aren't many scenes to provide for character development or to make the overall film interesting.  We have a set-up, climax and ending, but it's the finer details that the film misses altogether, and what should have been a riveting showdown at the end of the film ends up watching two men beat each other up with no real rooting interest on our part. 

THE HUNTED does feel like a retread of many films you may have seen before, but is helped by a likeable cast and Friedkin's knack for action sequences.  More concentration should have gone to the threadbare script, which is so barren of memorable scenes, you probably won't remember watching this film a month after viewing it.   This is one cat-and-mouse vehicle that fell prey to its own trappings.

Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo