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Sadly, Benicio Del Toro and
Tommy Lee Jones forget whose
Oscar is whose, and fight to the
death over what turns out to be
a trophy belonging to director
William Friedkin, for his work on
The French Connection.

The Hunted
Review written by: Alex Sandell

Has any athletic shoe company ever considered hiring Tommy Lee Jones as a pitchman for their product?  For a decade now, this guy has been running after some potentially guilty, but possibly innocent, fugitive, in hopes of catching up with him or her before he or she catches up with whatever they're running toward.  Poor Jones, who in real life just turned 98, ran after Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, then chased down Wesley Snipes in U.S. Marshals, next he was hot on the trail of Ashley Judd in Double Jeopardy, and now he's skipping through the forest in pursuit of Benecio Del Toro in The Hunted.  If Nike doesn't snatch this geezer up quick, you can be damn sure that Adidas will.

If you've seen both First Blood and The Fugitive, you've already watched The Hunted.  Aaron Hallam (Del Toro), who was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery shown while fighting in Kosovo, only 4 years earlier, is now on the outs with the military, isn't really trusting anybody, and was listed as Missing In Action and made a target by the Government that he used to work for.  Now, poor Hallam, fearing both for his safety and sanity is out in the Portland woods, killing what appear to be deer hunters.  Only, these deer hunters have military telescopes attached to their rifles - not exactly a necessity when it comes to snagging yourself a buck.

When L.T. Bonham (Jones) finds out that his former student, Aaron Hallam, is out in the woods eviscerating humans, he reluctantly agrees to hunt him down and bring him to justice.    When the two first confront one another in the woods, Hallam asks Bonham why he never answered the letters Hallam had sent him.  It's obvious that the ex-soldier was teetering at the edge of reality, and Bonham was the only guy he felt that he could count on.  Ironically, it turns out that Bonham is now the only person who can be counted on to kill the man he once taught how to murder quick, and get away even faster. 

So, the chase is on ... and on ... and on, and then the film ends.  It's honestly that simple.  Of course there are the tired, "your men can't take him out ... only I can, because I was his ... teacher" type dialogue thrown in, presumably to make it seem even more like a gigantic First Blood rip-off than it already does.  Hallam's motives and Bonham's sense of guilt are both hinted at, but neither character is fully fleshed out.  What could have been an excellent film, ends up being chopped and hacked into nothing more than a cheap knock-off of a couple of Hollywood movies that worked well at the box-office in the not-so-distant past.  

The two screenwriters behind this film, Peter and David Griffiths, have only one other movie to their writing credit, and that's the horrible Arnold Schwarzenegger terrorist thriller, Collateral Damage.  When I see idiots like these being given second chances, it makes me think of how nice it would be to work in Hollywood.  Your job history doesn't seem to matter out there in La-La Land, as long as you're related to somebody powerful, or happened to get Arnold Schwarzenegger (talk about a guy with his fair share of "second" chances) to star in your last crappy picture. 

Think how great it would be if the entire world worked like the movie industry.  Suddenly, Mexican restaurants that serve only Korean food would become bigger than McDonald's.  CD-Recorders that only play CDs, but refuse to record them, would be selling like hotcakes, and only cold hotcakes would really sell.  Wouldn't you just love it if you were hired as a janitor one day, for around 2 million dollars, spent eight hours messing up the place you were meant to be cleaning, and were then hired back the next day at double the pay, to do an even worse job than you did the day before?  Ah ... Hollywood. 

William Friedkin, a director whose career turned into one big "second" chance after his successful work on, The Exorcist,
directs The Hunted in the usual semi-adequate way that he directs things.  There's nothing too special here, but you're never really that bored. 

The Hunted's saving grace is Director of Photography, Caleb Deschanel.  Caleb Deschanel is the star of this movie.  He's pretty much all that makes it watchable.  His location photography is top-notch, and he somehow makes a movie not worth watching worth watching again.  He's the reason I'm actually going to recommend this, albeit very reluctantly. 

So, if you're into pretty scenery, beautifully shot on location, this film is worth checking out.  If you're looking for a quality story to go with the beautiful scenes, you'll probably be waiting until the end of next year, when Hollywood squeezes out the handful of quality films they're capable of creating, hoping for an Oscar nod.  Maybe, if they look hard enough, one of those nods will go to Deschanel, for his work on a little old bomb of a film that came out almost a year earlier called, The Hunted.

On a scale of 1-10?

5

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Text (Copyright) 2002 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].