Tommy Lee Jones is Agent Bonhan, an FBI deep-woods tracker who captures an assassin (Benicio Del Toro) with a weird proclivity — he makes a sport of killing deer hunters. When the killer escapes in the city, Bonham must team up with another Bureau agent (Connie Nielsen) to hunt down the thrill killer before he starts to hunt them. William Friedkin directs.
Rating: 3 out of 10
I love William Friedkin. If you’re not aware of him, he’s the Oscar-winning director of both “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist.” He’s a die hard proponent of blu-ray and loves explaining the in’s and out’s of the filmmaking process within the extras on his film’s discs. Friedkin’s entertaining, insightful, and a joy to listen and learn from. It’s with that sentiment I hate admitting that “The Hunted” is a very flawed film. There are so many problems with the writing that I don’t even know where to start. First off, we’re supposed to believe in the idea that Benicio Del Toro’s has gone off the deep end. Well, that’s impossible to accept when every little thing he does is so calculated. He knows exactly when to perform each and every action along with the consequences of a wrong move. If that’s the case, why would he ever go down this path in the first place? Also, I love Del Toro but he’s lifeless here. I want to see a bit more life out of a guy that has essentially thrown his entire life away while being hunted by the man he seemingly respects the most. Also, he seems to understand the tracking process that Tommy Lee Jones uses to find him. If that’s the case, why wouldn’t he do things to throw him off the path? Wouldn’t his own student know how to keep the bloodhound from smelling the blood? Lastly, all of the action scenes have very little emotional involvement. There’s so little back story that was never told. If we could see the progression of Del Toro’s character a bit more and feel the sadness that could come with him becoming a hardened murderer, it would have added so much to the last 1/3rd of the film.
On the bright side, Tommy Lee Jones is as terrific as ever. The Hunted is at its absolute best whenever he’s on screen. Also, Friedkin knows how to stage action and use the camera in interesting ways. Unfortunately, Del Toro and his writers didn’t show the same care for the material.