The Hunted (2003)

the-hunted-28Tommy Lee Jones plays Lt. Bonham, an ex agent who is now a guard for a nature society tracking animals and stopping poachers and illegal hunters. After two hunters are found gutted, Bonham is called back into duty by an old colleague who needs his help to track the killer, Aaron Hallman, an ex-agent who has begun killing hunters in the forest, brutally gutting them without mercy. Bonham instantly goes into action and begins tracking Hallman making way for a really cool fight scene at the top of the film as the two duke it out in the forest. Director Friedkin manages to direct a very dark and interesting thriller with some good camera work and smooth editing, plus he knows how to create tension and surprises.

The fight scenes here are original, I’ll give them that, with hand to hand combat that uses no wires, special effects, or bullet time slow motion. It’s only two people fighting and facing off. The story, while routine does take an interesting turn, as when Hallman who is captured is taken into custody and manages to escape. Now Bonham must track him yet again, but this time in the concrete jungle where his skills for tracking and foot prints are rendered basically useless. I approached this film with low expectations, I mean the plot is so recycled, but I was pretty surprised and never bored. Maybe it’s because we get William Friedkin at the helm of director who always seems to give a good job in his films, and maybe it’s because we have Benicio Del Toro who is always impressive in his roles.

Tommy Lee Jones is a great actor, but why continue these roles with these plots that we continue seeing over and over, and they never really get original regardless of cast or plot twists. We saw this iteration of the character Jones plays in “The Fugitive” and “Double Jeopardy.” Everything really feels by the numbers here, and just routine. The story which is basically inconspicuous here, is only there to make way for some endless chase sequences and fight scenes. There’s really no depth here with a lot of characters who are as well very under-developed. We’re supposed to go through the obligatory story telling, the setting up of Jones’ character with a few scenes, his approach from an agent to capture the killer while he insists he quit a long time ago, but from what? What did he do while in the authorities. So, we’re supposed to watch him go through the normal chase scenes but he has nothing to add to the film.

He has no depth in his character whatsoever, we don’t know his ticks, his past and his personality, only that he’s afraid of heights which Del Toro’s character uses against him, and then there’s Del Toro’s character Aaron Hallman who has no emphasis as we never really get to know why he’s killing people. What made him quit? Why is he killing people? What made him so untrusting of the government that he would go on the run? What did he do to go on the lam? Regardless, there are a lot of things going on with no one to focus on. Connie Nielsen is possibly the most under-developed with no real subplot I can spot, and performs with her usual beauty as the take no crap law officer. The action is also very by the numbers with a lot of fight scenes that, while good, are also not exciting, and then there’s the usual getaway scene, the car chase, and everything else the writers throw at us. It just all feels so staged with a lot of routine and safe moves in the plot you leave feeling detached without a sense of intimacy or adventure.