Facts and Figures
Run time: 94 mins
In Theaters: Friday 14th March 2003
Box Office USA: $34.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $34.2M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Fresh: 43 Rotten: 103
IMDB: 6.0 / 10
The Hunted Review
The film opens during the war in Kosovo as highly trained hand-to-hand combat assassin (or "tracker") Aaron Hallam (Benicio Del Toro) carries out his military assignment to murder a high-ranking official. He receives a silver star for his valor, but he is scarred and haunted by the widespread images of genocide. Like Rambo, his adjustment to civilian life is difficult as he finds himself unable to turn off his instinctual killing machine. He ends up hunting the forest outside Portland, Oregon looking for and killing in cold blood anyone betraying the credo of PETA.
After filleting several unsuspecting hunters, the FBI seeks the assistance of retired Army contractor L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones) to hunt down their killer. Bonham once specialized in the training of trackers, so once on the job, Bonham wanders through the forest sifting through dirt and examining broken tree branches looking for his man. He quickly concludes that the man the FBI is looking for is Hallam. Bonham initially trained Hallam, and since he knows Hallam's moves better than anyone, Bonham insists on hunting down Hallam without the FBI's help. Now, the chase is on!
While this battle of good versus evil fits Friedkin's modus operandi, the reliance on these two characters to drive The Hunted fails miserably. The character development is surprisingly thin, and the film is littered with too many plot holes and contrivances to fully engage. Even the chase sequences fail to entertain because they start and stop too frequently. Just as the action gets going, it stops, either because Hallam gets caught (and later escapes) or because we're forced to witness the tedious investigative work by the FBI. This on again/off again mentality ruins any attempt to build suspense or sustain our interest in the duel between master and pupil. There is far too much chase, and far too few payoffs. Friedkin may have been better served taking notes from the enthralling chase in The Fugitive.
Jones is very familiar with this type of genre, but this time he is not the man for the role. While the slower pace of The Fugitive fit his style, in Hunted, Jones is unable to keep up with the faster, more agile Del Toro. Jones looks more like a chicken running aimlessly with its head cut off, spotting footprints, or gazing into the wilderness. If this is what a tracker does, it sure doesn't translate into something interesting to watch on film. Del Toro makes a very scary looking predator with his malicious gaze, but very little time is devoted to his inner conflict (outside of a few flashback scenes) and the true motivations for his actions.
For all its failings, The Hunted does succeed in displaying some of the most bloody, well-choreographed knife fighting sequences I've seen on film. Additionally, the scenes photographed in and around Portland and the neighboring forests are visually stunning. Had any other action director helmed The Hunted, say John Woo, we may have expected (and forgiven) the plot inconsistencies and the feeble character development. But with Friedkin, we deserve better.
Commentary, deleted scenes, and a handful of toss-away featurettes pepper The Hunted on DVD.