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This is one of those movies that people will either love or hate. It has
it's flaws for sure, but this movie speaks to primitive, macho mano-a-mano
How realistic the knife fights are in this movie remains to be seen, although kali, the martial art used as the base for the fight scenes, is a powerful fighting style. But they are exciting to watch, and both Jones and del Toro inhabit their characters with enough gusto and panache that the movie can be very enjoyable to watch.
It definitely won't be everyone's cup of tea, but the Hunted will make lots of action movie and martial arts movie fans pleased and satisfied.
How could they have made this story better. There wasn't a need for
more dialog or love story and the fight scenes were amazingly well
done. Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro played expertly off one
another. I didn't flash onto another film when I was watching this. I
was surprised to read a comparison to Rambo. What? How is that even
possible. Other than the military theme (which is rather minimal in
this film, since Aaron could have easily been CIA, etc.) and people
being killed, what is the connection?
While Rambo is gory and violent and rather gratuitous, The Hunted is none of these. The worst we get with the "killings" are a few glimpses of *photos* if the hunters killed at the beginning of the film. I guess this is a thinking man's action film and for those that don't want to think, they will be quick to put it down.
Hey, out there. You guys who slammed this in your reviews, did you see the same film I did? Not real? Improbable? Impossible? Huh. If those of you who found this thought-provoking film about two men on the edge of the social plane, one who is over the edge and the other given the task of hunting the first one down-- both men, socially disaffected and on their own, unbelievable and impossible, give some attention to Alston Chase's article in the June, 200, pp.41-65 of the Atlantic Monthly on Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber and the effects of his experiences being part of the ill-conceived and unethical study on human subjects during his undergraduate years there. The formula is simple: Take a bright, talented person who is teetering on the edge of emotional stability, fill them with lots of head stuff about social and environmental corruption, train in the technology of killing people and then, turn them loose. While no one wanted to turn Kaczynski into the unabomber, the circumstances, however well-intended, did. The film story of Aaron Hallum played by the competent Benicio Del Toro and his counterpart, L.T. Bonham, played by Tommy Lee Jones, bring this theme into clear focus. OK, if you are a shoot'em up thriller fan (as I self-confessedly admit to being), you might have missed the car chase, the sex and all that, but gang, it is a gripping and thought-provoking story. Not real? I submit, read the data on Columbine, The Minn Indian Res and the Unabomber and guess again. It's real. Damn real.
Aaron Hallam (Benicio Del Toro) is a special ops guy in the military
who has been trained by one of the best--L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones).
Hallam is routinely ordered to execute strategic figures, and he
probably doesn't often know why. Sometimes he has to do his work in the
midst of chaos, and sometimes he has to take out people who get in the
way. After a brief prologue establishing Hallam's character in the
middle of the Bosnian conflict, The Hunted has him back in the States,
trying to reintegrate with society. When Hallam can't do it, L.T. is
sent for to track him down.
The Hunted is an action/chase film in the tradition of The Fugitive (1993). Thematically, it is much closer to First Blood (aka Rambo) (1982), but it doesn't have the firepower of that film (to its benefit, the emphasis here is on brutal hand-to-hand combat). On the surface, at least, the plot is an excuse for the chase and encounter scenes between Hallam and Bonham. If you're a fan of action and fighting films, this may be right up your alley, although there is more to be gained than the surface qualities.
Director William Friedkin and the cast are able to create fairly complex characters in Hallam and Bonham through subtle means while the action material is occurring, through well-placed flashbacks, and through two significant, slower scenes that give us a momentary breather. But as much as Del Toro and Jones, the stars of the film are the staging of the chases, the staging of the fights, and the spectacular stunt work. Del Toro and Jones seem to have done more stunt work than is the norm, with Del Toro actually breaking his wrist at one point and halting the production of the film until it healed.
Friedkin and editor Augie Hess deserve a lot of credit, as action scenes like these can frequently become muddled. It's always perfectly clear what one location's relationship is to the next location, what and why characters are doing what they're doing, and just what is occurring in the fight scenes--who is injuring who and how. Friedkin never falls back on fast cuts, blurry shots or speed control tricks to mask these scenes. The Hunted is also effective for retaining more realism than is the norm for contemporary action films--not that I ever subtract points for a lack of realism, but the realism is novel here and in context, works perfectly. Friedkin's choice of Johnny Cash songs for the opening and closing of the film was also inspired, as were the beautiful locations.
Of course, there's also a more political subtext here--namely that we officially train persons to be fearless killers without a conscience and stick them into the middle of crazy situations, often for extended periods of time, then later expect them to be able to "turn it off" and meld back into society with all of its more mundane norms and mores. The film asks who is really responsible for the later behavior of these persons. The Hunter is also admirable for bringing up these issues, but not providing definite, curt answers. On this end it's not just an action film, but a film to provoke serious thought and discussion.
Three facts about this film help to make it highly-rated in my book:
it's very entertaining, moves fast and lasts only 90 minutes. So, if in
the mood for a combination Fugitive/Rambo story with two very intense
lead actors, this is a convenient diversion to play numerous times.
Tommy Lee Jones was the mentor who trained Benico Del Toro on the art of killing and now the ex-student has gone out of control and Jones must hunt him down, something the police can't seem to do. That's the story, simple as that. The only thing was a little implausible is that old man chasing down a kid for miles. Tommy Lee might be in shape, but he isn't young enough to do what he does here. However, both men are fun to watch and the action scenes are well done. You don't get bored watching this movie.
No, the film isn't high-grade mentality but it isn't totally stupid, either. It doesn't get carried and is pretty believable until the final chase scene. Along the way, we are treated the Portland cityscape and Northwest woods, both of which are nicely filmed.
Here are several reasons for the low scoring reviews, for those of you
who thought it was terrific. Watch again and tell me that any one of
these is incorrect (NOTE. I'd warn about possible spoilers, but if
you're actually thinking about what you're watching, you'll see the
following plot elements coming).
The repetitive chase (hunt, find, fight, escape, hunt,find,fight,escape, huntfindfightescape) leaves little room for character development, e.g. what was it ABOUT his war experience that made Hallam decide to kill irreverent sport hunters? Do he and Bonham feel a father/son bond for each other, and if so when and why did that come about?
The sloppy digital effects (Tommy Lee's flailing torso spliced into the waterfall, flashes of Benicio's face spliced onto the fountain's cascade, as if he were in the cavity behind it.
Really? You're going to stop in the middle of the chase to forge a knife from scrap iron? Really??? You know how long that would take, and how noisy? So Bonham doesn't like guns, he's gonna knap one from flint rather than ask an agent for a combat knife? In the middle of a pursuit? REALLY????
The battlefield Kosovo set looked like a cross between Disneyland and Colonel Kurtz' most apocalyptic delusional nightmare. Too many pretty explosions, overstuffed setting, too populated by extras (who don't even react to the pretty explosions occurring feet away), too designed and manufactured looking, etc.
Yes ,the knife fight scenes were well choreographed, bloody, and inventive, with nice portrayals of effort and gravity (no wire work or movieland physics), but they needed to be cut more tightly. The way aging Tommy Lee broadcast his moves, Benicio would have filleted him like a fish, nine ways to Sunday.
If there's a deeper message to the film (Show some respect for the beings you kill, Honor thy Fatherfigure, whatever) it's trampled as badly by the pursuit as the ground is by the set dresser making blatantly overdone footprints for Tommy to "track".
I'd add more but this film's hardly worth it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For those who don't get the negative comments, I am equally confused by
the positive ones, believe me.
Take the "deep and meaningful" subtext about the consequences of training people to kill? Oh, puh-leeze...give me a break!! Replace "deep and meaningful" with "hokey and obvious" and you might just come somewhere close. And all that "Kill me a son..." BS? Ooh, ya, throw in some Scripture, that gives it substance - NOT!
No idea why a talent like Tommy Lee Jones effectively opted for "The Fugitive" mark two. Money must've been good I guess. Otherwise, the pacing is dreadful. One note throughout. He hunts, he finds, he loses, he hunts, he finds, he loses...on and on and...
The death of the secondary lead FBI agents was totally predictable. Like, what was the Chief even doing going down underground??? And like you really would pursue a "killing machine" through unfamiliar and unlit tunnels solo...I don't think.
But it's the way TL tracks the fugitive that is most unconvincing. Fact is, he doesn't. He just turns around and he's "there" more than half the time. Too many coincidences. Too many unexplained sightings.
You'll have plenty of reason to give up the ghost long before Tommy Lee, trust me.
Although it would be easy to write The Hunted off as a simple chase film (I can see the pitch now: "It's First Blood married to Predator with a dose of The Fugitive", and in reality that is a pretty fair description) but it's straight forward manner lends a constant sense of urgency. Throughout this gory (yeah it's pretty graphic) cat and mouse thriller we are also given some real insight into Del Toro's character. Unwilling to make sweeping judgments about nearly any of the characters (Connie Nielsen's FBI agent is a bit stubborn and single minded and occasionally very careless in discharging her firearm in public, Tommy Lee Jones'survivalist trainer has a guilty conscious of his own and even Del Toro's transformation is understandable), the finale is exciting but emotionally complicated, even tragic. The camera work and editing are very effective and affective while not overwhelming the finished product with the typical Hollywood style over substance dilemma. Combined with some very strong performances by the leads THE HUNTED makes for a very intense and satisfying thriller experience.
The movie is pretty well-produced overall, though there are a couple of
glaring editing goof-ups (the knife being dunked into water, for example.)
And the fact that it's clear Jones and Del Toro are doing much of their own
stuntwork in the fighting sequences (and other places) is pretty impressive.
However, there is really nothing of substance here that will make you remember the movie long after you've seen it. While the action gets bloody at times, the actual struggling around is only okay at best. The Jones and Del Toro characters are thin, with little background revealed about them, and they don't have that much dialogue. There are some interesting themes that start to peek out, but they are simply not expanded on. (Like: Why didn't Jones' character answer those letters he got? You have to hear the explanation from director Friedkin on one of the DVD documentaries!) Ultimately, the movie becomes a simple-minded action movie, of the mentality of many direct-to-video movies.
A P.S. to Hollywood filmmakers: If it is heavily snowing in British Columbia, it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that at the same time it would be sunny and warm in Oregon! The weather patterns in both places are more or less the same!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When you see a movie with Benicio Del Toro and Tommy Lee Jones on the
you expect a half decent movie. To be honest, I'm shocked Benicio agreed
such a half assed project.
The plot is thin at best, and gets thinner throughout the movie. There's no real explanation given for the characters actions. Relationships between characters are non existant, and it's hard to see why they bothered casting anyone but Jones and Del Toro since all the other characters are without direction or purpose.
In the end we come to a predictable outcome and with very little idea why any of this happened.
"guy goes to war. guy sees bad stuff. guy wakes up in middle of night. guy starts killing randomly" is not adequate explanation. the movie required a lot more detail surrounding del toros descent into madness. flashbacks of things that happened between the time of him returning and the killings in the woods would have helped, or some more development on his dreams.
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