|The Hunted (2003)
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio, Del Toro
Director: William Friedkin
"The Hunted," the new action film starring two of Hollywood's more charismatic stars, Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro, is an aimless, and at times amateurish film, which does not fully utilize its star power. William Friedkin, the renown film director of "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist," seems to have punted this one. The film is a distant poor relation to "First Blood" and "The Fugitive," and follows the formula of such films in a disjointed and undeveloped way.
Tommy Lee Jones plays L.T Bonham, a skilled tracker and survivalist, based upon the real life Tom Brown (see related interview), and Benicio Del Toro plays Aaron Hallam, a killing machine, who was once trained by L.T. For reasons which are never made clear to us, Hallam has gone AWOL from the military and is killing hunters/or possibly FBI hunters in the Northwest woods. Supposedly Hallam lost his mind on the battlefields of Kosovo, and flashbacks are introduced to show the horror of that war. It is hard to believe from the battles depicted here that such an elite soldier like Hallam would crack under this kind of pressure. The skulls lying on the battlefield which are continuously highlighted in flashback look fake and out of place as if painted silver by an unskilled set p.a.
LT is reluctantly brought out of retirement to help track down Hallam before he kills more hunters, and LT catches Hallam almost immediately. In another faulty plot line it is odd that for such a skilled killing machine, Hallam spends most of the film in custody or on his way to being caught again. Some of the tracking scenes in the Mt. Hood woods were cool, and the lessons of the tracking life could have been more fully exploited to show survival in the deep forest without benefit of modern weaponry or technology, but relatively early, the action switches to the streets of Portland where Hallam eludes capture time and again. A chase scene on a Portland trolley car is particularly redundant and frankly boring.
Connie Nielsen, of Gladiator fame, rounds out the cast, as FBI agent Abby Durrell. Her delivery at times is painful. I don't know if this is due to lack of talent, or not being given enough direction by Friedkin, or simply the stock dialogue such as "Secure and lock down sector red," which her character is forced to deliver. Del Toro who is usually wonderful and inventive in his acting choices, also looks amateurish at times. One scene in which he is shown teaching a little girl how to track is so bad it verges on camp.
Well, needless to say the chase goes on and on and you keep waiting for the film to get better, or at least benefit from some sort of a twist, but that twist never comes and the film never gets better, and you are left wondering what they were thinking.