Hunted, The (2003) zero stars
Directed by William Friedkin. Written by David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths & Art Monterastelli. Photography, Caleb Deschanel. Editing, Augie Hess. Production design, William Cruse. Music, Brian Tyler. Producers, Ricardo Mestres, James Jacks A Paramount release. Cast: Tommy Lee Jones (Bonham), Benicio Del Toro (Hallam), Connie Nielsen (Abby Durrell), JosÚ Z˙˝iga (Moret) et al. A Paramount release. 94 minutes. R (violence)
A fiasco. We need a Rambo-id picture like a hole in the head and a pain in the derriere. It is doubly sad as this nothing-but-action flick was helmed by the sometimes fine William Friedkin whose resume includes good stuff such as "The French Connection," "The Exorcist," "The Night They Raided Minsky's," "The Boys in the Band," the underrated "Sorcerer," "The Brink's Job," "To Live and Die in L.A.," et al. (Another Friedkin accomplishment: the first of his four wives was the French star Jeanne Moreau.)
"The Hunted" opens with super-violent scenes of killing in 1989 Kosovo. These are gratuitous, exaggerated and fake -with not a centimeter of historical enlightenment for the public. Note the huge, very artificial fires that make, in "Gone with the Wind," the burning of Atlanta admirable. Thus the tone of arbitrary overkill is set.
It is followed by Special Forces Col. Tommy Lee Jones teaching his tough guys the fine points of killing. The best pupil is Benicio Del Toro.
Cut to the year 2001. In a shaggy wolf sequence, Jones, in the beautiful, snowy wilderness of British Columbia, frees a beautiful white animal from a trap. Animal lovers, rejoice! Cut to the wilds of Oregon. Two hunters are stalking beautiful deer with guns whose sights are amazingly sophisticated. Animal lovers, deplore this easy, hi-tech form of murder. The hunters are taken care of by Benicio. The man's heart may be in the right place, but his mind is not. The result: the FBI sets Tommy Lee to find and neutralize his former A-plus student. Early on, Benicio, captured and manacled inside an FBI truck, escapes, unhurt, and in an inexplicable way which causes the vehicle to crash and kill its three agents. Talk of overkill, in every respect!
The simple-minded flick is just a mano a mano hunt-cum-duel of two very skilled people, in a city, Portland, Oregon, its streets, its waters, its sewers, its elevated railroad, its adjoining nature, its waterfalls, its skies (via an FBI helicopter) and soon ad nauseam. The chase, no matter where, is totally unbelievable. Down to Tommy Lee --who suffers from acrophobia-yet keeps doing impossible stunts. Down to both men fabricating knives and such (including forging them in fire) out of stones, in record time too! Down to prowess that belongs to Batman, not to real life. Down to inflicting on the viewers impossiblities over and above one's suspension of disbelief.
The supporting cast is ill-defined, in fact, un-defined. The two rivals have a maximum of two expressions each. The public watching this failure must have just one: boredom.