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The Hunted

movie reviewvideo review out of 4


*Also starring: Connie Nielsen, Jenna Boyd, Leslie Stefanson



Review by Susan Granger
1 star out of 4

As Johnny Cash's intones the lyrics from Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited," this formulaic catch-the-killer story begins in 1999 in Kosovo, where Aaron Hallam (Benicio Del Toro), a U.S. Special Forces agent, has been dispatched to neutralize a Serbian officer. While accomplishing his assassination mission, he glimpses a solemn child who has just witnessed the slaughter of her Albanian mother and that stricken girl's face subsequently haunts his dreams.

Skip ahead in time to the present - in the snowy wilds of the Pacific Northwest, where intrepid L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones), the cranky professional tracker who trained Hallam, is recruited to bring in his former student who's now gone insane. "He can kill anyone without regret," Bonham reports to the local F.B.I.-team leader (Connie Nielsen), who predictably retorts, "You're not going out there alone." Which, of course, he does - unarmed - as the relentless grizzled-loner-versus-the-tormented-wacko hide-and-seek hunt begins.

What's most curious about this superficial, by-the-numbers wannabe thriller is how many cinematic opportunities are wasted. Oscar-winning actors Benicio Del Toro and Tommy Lee Jones wrestle with a wretched, guilt-themed script by David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths and Art Monterastelli, and there's little that director William Friedkin ("Rules of Engagement") or cinematographer Caleb Deschanel can do to save it. Predictably, the underdeveloped concept culminates in a final showdown that has the dubious distinction of being the bloodiest knife-fight I can remember. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Hunted" is a brutal, testosterone-drenched 3. "Killing will become instinctive. Turning it off will be the problem." Oh, really?

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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