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"The Hunted"

Directed by William Friedkin.
Written by David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths and Art Monterastelli.
Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro and Connie Nielsen.
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  3/17/03 


Interesting note on “The Matrix Reloaded”, now about eight weeks from opening:  I see two or three movies a week, and watch a number of major sporting events...but, I STILL have not seen a trailer for the sequels in theaters.  Not the teaser, not the first trailer aired during the Super Bowl, not even a new poster since the teaser posters started appearing around Christmas last year.  I am very, very happy about this.  I have seen trailers for almost every major film opening this summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and not a single one for what might end up as one of the highest grossing films of the year.  Keep hiding stuff from me...I love it!

So, after a nice breakfast of French toast, sausage and fruit on Sunday morning, I rolled over to the theater for a morning show of “The Hunted”, the new action film starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro.  I came into it only hoping to be mildly entertained, since my buddy Chi called me the day prior to tell me how average the film was.  Instead, I was pleasantly surprised.  “The Hunted” is basically a chase film, as a guy named LT (Jones) chases after a former protégé named Aaron (Del Toro) in Portland.  Why?  Well, Aaron has special training as an assassin, and he got his training from LT, a tracker that has no military experience but apparently is the ONLY GUY IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY that can be called upon to take out Aaron.  Whatever.  We spend the film not really going through any kind of a plot, we just watch one guy chase after the other...

...and, I liked it!  Sometimes with these mano-y-mano films, you get too watered down with story; the great thing about movies like “Demolition Man” is that the filmmakers know that the story blows but we can just watch two people go at it with their special skills and have some kind of fight-to-the-death sequence take place at the end of the film.  It would also be helpful if the film was, oh, about 90 minutes long, have no love story or attempts at broad humor.  “The Hunted”, then, is perfect for this!  It’s pure popcorn.  While the film is entertaining-yet-forgettable (as any good Matinee would be), this film gets bonus points because the action scenes are suspenseful, the character development is scarce, and the end fight scene is pretty solid.

That brings “The Hunted” up a notch.  The film lost points for me in one major area, which will give part of an important scene away.  Okay, so you have been warned...

In a sequence where the FBI and Portland police are chasing after Aaron, the feds send in agents to search an underground facility.  Now, if the feds have, say, 50 agents  at their disposal, why would they ever send in their FBI Director--uh, FUCKING ALONE, WITH NO FUCKING BACKUP--to assist tracking down a military career assassin?  I was about to stand up and protest in my theater.  Of course the lead fed gets offed, and as I watched him die, I said to myself, would the Chief of Police be the first one in to a drug bust with Colombian cartel members?  Would you ever send the President over to Iraq for negotiations without any Secret Service agents?  This was straight ridiculous.

Save for that one moment, “The Hunted” was pretty solid entertainment for me, even if I wouldn’t watch it again for any reason.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09