Volume 96, Issue 89
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

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The Hunted just can't escape comparisons to The Fugitive

The Hunted
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro
Directed by: William Friedkin

Gazette file photo

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

The Fugitive franchise continues with The Hunted, an intense and all too familiar epic about a man who always catches his man.

Erin Hallum (Benicio Del Toro) is a former special forces soldier who goes postal and begins hiding in a forest in Oregon to kill deer hunters.

L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones) is the grizzled old tracker who is called out of retirement by the FBI to catch a knife-wielding crazy man who can hide anywhere and can kill without any compunction.

The outcome of this concept is the classic game of cat and mouse, with Hallum on the run from the law and Bonham relentlessly closing in on his man.

The director of the film is William Friedkin, the same man who directed several blockbusters in the '70s, such as French Connection and The Exorcist. However, over the last two decades, Friedkin has sunk into obscurity because of his lack of successful films – The Hunted probably won't change that.

The movie bears many similarities to The Fugitive and U.S. Marshals. In fact, they all possess the same premise, and only the films' characters differ. Even with the reliable story, Del Toro and Jones cannot capture the same explosive chemistry that Harrison Ford and Jones had in The Fugitive, which earned Jones a well-deserved Oscar.

The characters are, for the most part, unoriginal and formulaic. There's the professional tracker who knows everything about the bad guy, but is ignored by the authorities while he tries to wrestle with his own demons. The villain of the story is not actually a cold-blooded killer as everyone believes, but, in fact, just a misunderstood pawn in an insidious government plot. The film's entire character formula has been used too many times before and gives the movie that annoying, familiar feeling.

The film becomes oppressive and even draggy halfway into the movie as suspense is replaced with melodramatic flashbacks involving Hallum's war experiences and Bonham's guilt over training Hallum to become a killer.

The only strength of the whole flick is the eye-popping knife fights that are impressively choreographed and appear throughout the movie.

The Hunted is not an entirely bad movie; it's worth seeing at least once, but The Fugitive is still a better bet.


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