"The Hunted," starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benecio Del Toro, is neither sound nor merciful. It's all predictable and improbable, like logs piled on a blazing fire-intense and fleeting.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
The Bard's Prospero exclaims, "Let them be hunted soundly! At this hour/Lies at my mercy all mine enemies!" William Friedkin's "The Hunted," starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benecio Del Toro, is neither sound nor merciful. It is filled with telegraphed, cliched action in the most unimaginative chase plot of the last year.
In some ways this film mimics "Insomnia," both relying on the weary old timer to catch the brilliant murderer and both films exploiting beautifully the Pacific Northwest. They both have attractive, lithe young female operatives (Hilary Swank and Connie Nielson) who offer nothing substantial in catching the baddie. Yet in "Insomnia" everyone seemed ironically awake while in "The Hunted" they all seemed to be sleeping, especially when someone surely pointed out the stunning illogic of almost every major action.
Kosovo veteran Del Toro is killing people at home, apparently traumatized by his bloody war experience. Jones is the FBI "deep woods tracker" who trained him and now hunts him. They meet again like father and son but with bloody business their only end.
It's all predictable and improbable, like logs piled on a blazing fire-intense and fleeting. I mean, how could a fugitive possibly have time to create 2 very effective mantraps, and how long can a seriously wounded man run or stay conscious for that matter. The rapport between Pacino and Williams in "Insomnia" has no time to develop here, for "French-Connection" Friedkin is hell-bent on action, his speciality. He exploits a dam and waterfall with considerable success. The whole location shooting by DP Caleb Deschnel ("The Natural") is simply beautiful.
Our experiences in Vietnam and the Balkans should make us quite aware of the impossibility anymore of identifying who is the hunter or who the hunted. Friedkin never plays to this tantalizing theme, which will inevitably show in the end that we are both.
John DeSando vice-chairs the board of The Film Council of Greater Columbus and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org on Thursdays at 8:01 pm and Fridays at 3:01 pm.