The Hunted Review
By Shawn McKenzie 03/14/2003
I can’t believe I am saying this, but there are times when a movie can be too short! I complain occasionally when a movie is too long, but in the case of William Friedkin’s latest directorial effort, The Hunted, the movie wasn’t long enough.
L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones) is a retired military trainer who is satisfied just living alone in British Columbia. One day he is called upon by FBI official Harry Van Zandt (Ron Canada) to help in the investigation of one of his former students, Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Hallam (Benicio Del Toro.) Having seen the brutality of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo firsthand, the extremely skilled and dangerous Hallam has apparently gone crazy. He has been accused of killing and gutting four deer hunters in Oregon. L.T. comes to the latest crime scene, which is being supervised by field agent Abby Durrell (Connie Nielsen), but wants her and the other agents and local police surveying the area to go away because he prefers to work alone. Using the same tracking methods he taught to Hallam, he finds the disturbed soldier. After a brawl with Hallam, L.T. and Durrell bring him in. They try to interview him to find out why he snapped, but a covert branch of Special Forces take him away because he knows too many highly classified government secrets. As he is being transported to a place where he will “disappear,” Hallam escapes by making the van they are traveling in tip over. L.T. hears about the escape on his way back home and comes back to once again locate his former student and bring him back in or kill him. At one point, he finds Hallam staying with Irene Kravitz (Leslie Stefanson) and her daughter, Loretta (Jenna Boyd.) Hallam slips away from L.T. once again, and he chases the soldier all over the city and outlining areas, using his military skills to try to get the best of him.
I complain about the length not because I wanted to see more action, but because I wanted more explanation. Why is Hallam suddenly going nuts now? Who were Irene and Loretta, and how did they become involved in his life? What brought on L.T.’s fear of flying? I haven’t seen a movie’s plot this underdeveloped in a long time. At one point, L.T. tries to explain Hallam’s actions by stating that he had tried to teach Hallam to turn on the killing instinct, but that Hallam hadn’t learned how to turn it off. If that is true, why did he supposedly have it off during his visit with Irene and Loretta? Another point supposedly gave us the answer to Hallam’s freak-out in the form of letters he had sent to L.T. L.T. proceeds to burn them before we get a chance to see them. Why? A movie really shouldn’t leave you with so many questions.
What the movie lacks in plot development, it makes up for in cool action. The fight scenes are amazing. Knife specialists Thomas Kier and Rafael Kayanan did a great job choreographing some stunning hand-to-hand knife fights.
Cool knife action alone can?t save The Hunted from being the most worthy movie to see at full movie price, especially if you leave the theater as confused as I was. I will forgive the length of a movie if that extra time is used to flesh out a plot. In the case of this movie, it got rid of plot development in order to show more flying knife action. You would think the man who brought us The French Connection and The Exorcist would know better by now.
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