out of Five
Running time: 97
Animalistic, altogether bloodier version of The Fugitive – watchable but hampered by half-hearted plotting and a laughably pretentious opening and closing.
At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that The Hunted was a sequel to The Fugitive, or, more accurately, to U.S. Marshalls, the unofficial sequel that saw Tommy Lee Jones reprise his character in order to chase Wesley Snipes.
And, to all intents and purposes, it is exactly that, except that Jones goes to great lengths to show that he’s playing a different character, save actually wearing a t-shirt with “ I Am Playing a DIFFERENT Character” on it.
Basic Plots And The Butchery Of The Innocent
The plot is extremely basic. Benicio Del Toro plays a Special Ops assassin, who we meet in the opening scene, butchering a warlord in Kosovo.
There are lots of endless shots of Innocent People getting rounded up and shot in muddy ditches, and then later we see a shot of Del Toro in darkness, head in hands, so we know that he is Tortured By The Things He Has Done.
However, flash forward a few years and – hey presto - he has gone AWOL and become a Predator-like Brutal Killing Machine. In the woods or something.
Reclusive Assassin Trainer
Which is where Tommy Lee Jones comes in. He’s a tracker who has become
something of a cabin-dweller, despite the fact that he used to train people to kill.
It will come as a surprise to precisely no-one that Del Toro turns out to be one of Jones’ ex-students, which sets up an unbelievably pretentious opening and closing bit with Johnny Cash intoning “God said to Abraham ‘kill me a son’” on the soundtrack.
From then on in, it’s a pure chase movie and essentially a much bloodier, more animalistic version of The Fugitive. The two leads try hard, particularly Jones, who has a good scene where he is nervously pacing around a Big City Office, sweating like a claustrophobe in a lift. However, the script gives them very little to work with and completely neglects to give Connie Nielsen anything interesting to do.
The film could have been quite good (though it wouldn't have been any less derivative), but Friedkin has sacrificed plot for violence, gore and the odd bit of interesting character detail, such as the fact that Jones doesn’t carry a gun.
Some of the fight scenes are raw and exciting, but some are ridiculous. At one point Jones pulls a stake that is over an inch thick from his leg - blood literally gushes out, and yet he's perfectly capable of walking on it and having a Scrap To The Death afterwards.
Having said that, The Hunted is by no means unwatchable, as pared-down chase movies go. If you like that sort of thing.