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The Hunted

Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro and Connie Nielsen
Screenplay by David and Peter Griffiths
Directed by William Friedkin

IN SHORT: Hunter. Hunted. So not Fugitive. Such a Waste of Time. [Rated R for Strong Bloody Violence and Some Language.]

The Hunted is the best example of what we term the "how the hell did this underdeveloped on almost all counts thing ever get the green light?" movie. We know the answer to the question, of course. The Hunted is a fugitive concept which, by the time it swings into what passes for full gear, discards the use of dialog, a decision that could only have thrilled seasoned director William Friedkin. His finished product is anything but thrilling.

Once upon a time a top cop hunted down a murderous fugitive. Sure, said fugitive was innocent but that was a different Tommy Lee Jones movie. Now the fugitive has gunned down FBI agents. Of course, he says he was being hunted by the government agents but who needs back story or extra plot when you can hunt down a fugitive with Tommy Lee Jones as the cop? You are welcome to waste your time, if you want to.

But we've got space to fill, so...

1999: Aaron Hallam (Benicio Del Toro) fights heroically in Kosovo. Takes down an evil general type with extreme prejudice but not before watching Serbian soldiers savagely slaughter scores of civilians. Gets a Silver Star. Good soldier. We suspect that four more years of undocumented, undisclosed military operations follow. You don't get to see any of those ops in The Hunted. If they did, whatever supersecret military branch Hallam works for would have to kill everyone who forked out ten bucks for a movie ticket. There are bad nightmares due to battle fatigue overload burnout syndrome (or whatever it's called this year) that we do see. They're all the fault of . . .

The man who trained Hallam, L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones). Bonham lives in the wilds of Canada. He is now a professional tracker who has given up the uniform to work for the (world) Wildlife Fund. He's not PETA radical but he does defend helpless wild animals like a wild, white wolf whose paw has been mutilated by a hunter's snare. The hunter will regret laying the snare. Good L.T.

Present day: Hunters with sniper scopes far too advanced to be hunting deer and moose are tracking deer and moose through the forest. No, check that. Their target is a man in black with camo painted face -- yep, ol' Silver Star himself. The hunters, of course, don't stand a chance for the simple reason that they weren't trained by L.T. Bonham.

So the FBI come calling on the retired military man to track and capture his pupil, now guilty of killing the feds that were trying to kill him. Don't exactly know what their problem finding Hallam is. They know he's hiding out with ex girlfriend Irene (Leslie Stefanson) and her kidlet Loretta (Jenna Boyd) somewhere near Portland (Oregon, we think). Hallam gives 'em an envelope filled with cash and orders to get out of town before the government "burns the house down." In comes Bonham, who makes short shrift of the gig. In custody, Hallam tries to spill the truth about his military missions, some with ominous sounding code names which must mean they were particularly nasty and illegal. We don't know. Those who love speculating about government conspiracies can fill in the holes left by writers David and Peter Griffiths. The tough and incredibly attractive FBI agent Abby Durrell (Connie Nielsen) is in charge of the case and she wants blood for blood but Bonham screams at Hallam to shut up. He does. End of story.

Except for the inevitable escape from captivity and the ultimate hunt and capture shtick.

How little story is there in this nonsense? Right in the middle of the hunt, with helicopters filling the skies and police agents hanging way back in the underbrush, both hunter and hunted take a break to fashion weapons. One forges a steel knife out of found parts -- builds a fire and waits (and waits and waits) until it's hot enough to soften the discarded steel he's found -- the other chops away at a piece of stone.

Fire means smoke. Choppers see smoke. End of story in real life. The only real life in this story is the scream of ticket buyers cheated out of their ten bucks.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Hunted, he would have paid . . .


We desperately tried to remember something redeeming about The Hunted, being a big fan of Tommy Lee Jones. Couldn't.

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