The Hunted

2003, Movie, R, 94 mins


If your idea of a good time at the movies is watching two grown men go at it with fists and shivs and nasty wilderness booby-traps, then you're in luck. Director William Friedkin's brutal throwdown of a movie offers plenty of blood and guts, but has little else to recommend it. After a long career as a professional tracker, L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones) has retired to the frozen wilds of British Columbia. His peace is broken by the arrival of FBI agent Dale Hewitt (Mark Pellegrino), who brings news of a grisly find in Oregon's Silver Falls State Park: the corpses of two hunters, dressed and quartered like deer. When L.T. learns that the gutted bodies of two other hunters were recently found in Washington state, and that the FBI is convinced the killer is still in the Silver Falls region, he reluctantly agrees to fly south and assist agent Abby Durrell (Connie Nielsen) in the investigation. Within minutes of picking his way through the dense forest surrounding the crime scene, L.T. comes to face-to-face with the killer, and it's someone L.T. knows quite well: Aaron Hallam (Benecio Del Toro), a soldier from the days when L.T. helped train U.S. Special Forces operatives to track and kill with stealth and speed, then quickly disappear. Tormented by visions of the genocide he witnessed while serving in Kosovo, Hallam went AWOL and has become a killing machine with a bizarre eco-warrior agenda. Hallam is taken to Portland, but is soon released into the custody of Defense Department officials, who worry that Hallam will spill his guts about top-secret operations in faraway lands. But as the armored van carrying Hallam hits the open highway, he escapes and vanishes into the Portland suburbs, leaving L.T., the man who taught Hallam everything he knows, the only one capable of taking him down. As if the sight of the 56-year-old Jones chasing down speeding trams, scrambling up suspension bridges and swimming across a raging river in pursuit of Del Toro weren't sufficiently hard to swallow, the film makes absolutely no attempt to explain itself. Why has Hallam has become a homicidal animal rights activist, and what are all those Abraham and Isaac references doing in the script, other than lending a brainless film the illusion of intelligence? It's hardly boring, what with all the running, jumping and killing, and there's a promising glimmer of chemistry between Jones and Nielsen. But like everything else in this preposterous chase film, it goes nowhere. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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