The Hunted (2003) William Friedkin

Production Budget: $55 million

Worldwide Gross: $45 million

The Hunted is based somewhat on the character of Tom Brown Jr.  Brown trains army rangers and special forces in tracking and combat.  He is considered one of the best (if not the best) tracker on the planet.  Now the character is based on a real life guy but obviously the events of the movie are fictional.  We follow Lt. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones) who is brought out of retirement to help track one of his former students.  Aaron Hallam was trained in stealth and tracking but ended up MIA and is now murdering people in the forest outside Portland.  Hallam is suffering from severe psychological issues from all the killing in the service and thinks everyone is out to get him.

This is a strange kind of love it or hate it film by both critics and viewers and I can’t really understand the hate.  I have read the negative comments and I think they are rather baseless.  One really off the mark slam was someone claimed it had a strange PETA message.  You see during the investigation they ask Hallam why he kills and he makes a smart ass remark that billions of chickens are killed and that it would be just as cruel to slaughter humans.  That reviewer took it to mean Hallam was some fringe environmentalist but that is so not the case.  He was being flip with the interrogators and gave a smart ass reply to rile them up.  Truth is, he was just having issues with his actions in the army.  There were also several angry user comments of “How dare you movie for saying all combat veterans have trouble with their urge to kill and they are all psychopaths” blah blah blah…  Way to generalize.  The actions of one person do not speak for that of the entire army and you need a thicker skin.

I really like The Hunted.  It is a very basic cat and mouse type movie.  Hallam is killing people, Bonham tracks him down, and they get in several fights.  The plot is basic and they don’t spend a ton of time on characterization which I suppose could be a slam on this movie but I thought it worked.  This is just a pure action movie, it is not a serious character study of war fatigue.  Whatever story we get is just the bare basics of setting the story up and moving from one action scene to another.

I found the knife training interesting in how brutal and efficient it is.  It sets up the action scenes involving those knife fights which I especially like.  You wouldn’t think of Tommy Lee Jones as an action guy, but the stunts they have him do isn’t that crazy.  Jones handles the introspective moments well, and Del Toro is a good foil for Bonham’s character.

William Friedkin has shown up quite a few times in m reviews and is underrated in my opinion.  I really liked To Live and Die in LA and absolutely loved Sorcerer.  Sure, he made Jade but hey, I’ll give him a pass on that.  The Hunted isn’t too groundbreaking but for what it sets out to do, it does it very well.


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