The Hunted (8)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


  One thing William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist) knows is action. And thatís a lot of action, well-paced action.  When heís at his best he doesnít give us a lot of reaction shots and shots of people thinking in the middle of battle, no time wasting character development.  No, he knows how to provide slam-bang, constantly moving, action!

And thatís what you get in The Hunted.  L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones) trained Aaron Hallam (Benicio Del Toro) to be a, Öwell, a trained killer while in the armed forces.  After some violent action in Bosnia, Hallam has kind of gone off the deep end and is in the forest, killing people who come after him (not an unreasonable response).  L.T. is called in to find him.  Aaronís captured, gets away, and the chase is on.  Itís L.T. vs. Aaron, teacher vs. pupil, hampered by the FBI and local law enforcement who all want AaronÖdead.

 Those who have been reading me should know by now that I abhor gratuitous violence.  Be warned, thereís a lot of graphic violence in this film.  This is a tough film and violence is what itís about.  I turned my head a couple of times.  And if youíre an experienced film watcher, you should know when to turn your head or close your eyes if you donít want to see blood.

 As with a lot of Hollywood films, you do have to suspend disbelief in the way L.T. tracks Aaron, but I did so willingly.  This is Hollywood; whatís to believe?  To its credit there isnít anybody who flies, and there arenít a lot of ridiculous kung fu fights.  But there are some very bloody fights, which contain normally lethal strikes that leave the combatants still fighting.  Who cares?  This is a quintessential chase film and it held my interest throughout.

 I thought that there was a plot line that was brought up and could have been better developed and explained.  Aaron is sometimes presented as a sympathetic, manipulated, misunderstood character.  But, although the issues are raised, they are not explained or resolved.  And maybe therein lies Fiedkinís shortcoming.

 The music (Brian Taylor) adds to the tension and the cinematography (Caleb Deschanel) is gorgeous, showing spectacular shots of the forest and raging rivers.  Thereís very little in this movie I didnít enjoy.  But although itís devoid of humor and bloody, itís old-fashioned, Hollywood tense. As the pursuers are walking down aisles looking for Aaron, youíre never quite sure when heís going to pop out and commit mayhem. They way Friedkin sets it up, youíre not sure whether youíre rooting for Aaron or against him. As a final plus, it comes in at 94 minutes; perfect!

 March 14, 2003

 The End