The Hunted Movie Review
Academy Award winners Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro, along with Academy Award nominee Connie Nielsen, team up for the serious action flickThe Hunted, directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist). The talent, along with the fact that Jones is back in a role that he does so well, suggests that The Hunted should be one of the coolest movies of the year; unfortunately, it does not live up to expectations.
The Hunted is about an elite soldier (Del Toro) who snaps after witnessing atrocities in Kosovo and decides to kill two hunters in the woods outside of Portland who he deems are taking advantage of innocent prey. The FBI is brought in to investigate the murder and they call up an expert tracker (Jones) to find the killer. He finds his guy quickly, but that is only the beginning of a huge manhunt that leave many more dead and many questions unanswered.
The most frustrating part of The Hunted is that so many questions about Del Toro's past are left unanswered. At one point, it is revealed that the government wants to deal with him their own way for something he did to a family overseas, but it is never explained what exactly happened or what this has to do with anything. Furthermore, it is never explained exactly how Del Toro snapped so much that he resorted to killing random people. The movie starts off with a pretty cool battle scene in Kosovo, and then immediately jumps to the scene in the woods where the hunters are killed. What happened in between? Considering Del Toro's acting talent, it would have been nice to see his progression into madness.
I was expecting an intelligent and thrilling action movie, but what I got was a surprisingly simple film with lots of decent action scenes. Again, I would have liked to see Del Toro's insanity develop over time; this could have been accomplished through flashbacks, telling two different stories at the same time, that of Jones hunting for Del Toro, and that of Del Toro working his way towards his first murder. Instead, the movie just jumps into the action with little thought given to the "why's" and "hows."
In terms of action movies, The Hunted is decent. It has a good amount of blood and gore, a few good fighting and chase scenes and so forth, but director Friedkin never really engages the audience as much as I would have liked, and as much as I know he is capable of. A lot of the time I was watching the action and somewhat impressed, but never felt involved the way really good action films make me feel. A part of it is because of the way the action scenes are shot - not very impressively - and also because very little background is given as to why Del Toro is killing people.
Those looking for a mindless action movie might find some decent thrills here, but I was really hoping for and expecting something more sophisticated. A mere five or ten minutes more dedicated to the reasons behind Del Toro's madness probably would have allowed me to enjoy this film a lot more, but this is what I have to work with. The Hunted is definitely worth renting, but aside from that, I wouldn't recommend spending evening prices on it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.