Review by Gordon Justesen
Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Connie Nielsen
Director: William Friedkin
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 94 Minutes
Release Date: August 12, 2003
“If you cross this line…you better be ready to
The idea of another
chase movie may be as dated as any clichéd movie genre, but The
Hunted is a terrific exception. The reason for this is that it happens to
have some top craftsmanship behind it. In terms of action, it's one of those
rare cases where the violence and action seem to have something of a jolting
value. Since the movie, which runs at a brisk 94 minutes, is essentially one
extended chase between two characters, leading up to a power packed duel in the
end, The Hunted earns its stripes as a pure action movie, but it also
manages to fit in some strong character development, making it even more
exciting. It also doesn't hurt that the director happens to be William
Friedkin, who practically invented the chase movie.
Tommy Lee Jones
stars as L.T. Bonham, a forest tracker who at one point served as a civilian
employee for the U.S. Army. His work for the armed forces consisted of training
the most elite of soldiers to make their own weapons and stalk, track, hunt and
kill with the flawless timing. Although it goes without saying that the
techniques taught to the soldiers can be somewhat psychologically assaulting, no
one ever thought that the quite unique killing techniques would find its way
outside the battlefield. However, that's exactly the case when a string of
bloody, brutal murders occur in a game hunting sight in Silver Creek, Oregon.
When L.T. is called in to verify the stylized killing techniques, he doesn't
hesitate when discovering it was possible the murders were executed by one of
the men he trained years ago.
Not too soon
afterward, L.T. comes face to face with such a suspected figure, that of
ex-soldier Aaron Hallam (Benicio Del Toro), who was trained by L.T. and put the
killing art to very good use while fighting in Kosovo in 1999. Now, it appears
that Hallam has gone completely insane, due to the graphic horrors of war
haunting him ever since he served his country. Hallam, who's taken in by
authorities, claims to be defending the various animals of the wilderness, as
the murder victims were deer hunters. When a pair of government agents arrive
instructing the cops that Hallam's identity can't even be disclosed, it
becomes even more convoluted.
Then the chase
begins, and at a breathtaking pace. Hallam escapes the clutches of the
government cohorts trying to shadow his existence, and the body count rises
considerably. The essential chase begins when L.T., along with a female FBI
field agent (Connie Nielsen), visit the home of Hallam's ex-girlfriend, where
he's likely to be hiding. Then the pursuit leads to a city area, where Hallam
eludes his pursuers through in a definitive cat and mouse style. The chase is
put on hold when Hallam escapes by killing his way through a set of steam
tunnels and fearlessly leaping off a city bridge and into river waters,
identical to his survival skills.
The heart of the
movie is the confrontation between L.T. and Hallam. It is clear that the two
will face off in a grueling act of brutal combat. Since L.T. was the very person
who made Hallam the killing machine that he is, he alone is the only one who can
defeat him. The knife combat scenes are superbly done, and have an in-your-face
quality about them. When a person is wounded or injured, it feels quite
believable. When the two confront each other for a deadly face off in the end,
it's nothing short of razor sharp intensity.
For all its wide
scope of action, The Hunted contains
two ultimately strong performances in the lead. Jones is nothing short of
believable in the role of the rugged veteran, but it's kind of hard not to
have the movie stolen from you when your co-star is Benicio Del Toro, who is
without a doubt one of the most original acting talents in cinema's history.
Anything he portrays, you buy into at first glance, and Del Toro is the absolute
perfect actor to play a violent psychopath like Aaron Hallam, whose violent acts
don't come as a result of rage, but from a place so deep in his soul that no
one can beg to understand it. Del Toro masters this notion remarkably well.
Hunted blends in elements of First Blood
and The Fugitive to make a most
effective action thriller. Directed with endless skill by William Friedkin,
returning to his chase-movie roots that help to create such classics as The
French Connection and To Live and Die
in L.A., and highlighted by the strong turns from the two lead actors, this
is an inspired, if not all too thought provoking, action thriller entry.
hand quality of video transfers is illustrated yet again with this superb
anamorphic offering. Making valuable use of the sets and locations, director
Friedkin and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel create a striking look to the
movie, which in turn has elevated to a remarkable looking disc. Picture quality
is endlessly clear and sharp, complete with alive natural colors, and a well
amount of detail. A full frame version is also available.
The power of the
sound quality provided by the 5.1 mix can be demonstrated right at the beginning
of the movie, which is a sequence of Hallam as a soldier fighting in Kosovo, and
proven even more strong a few scenes later when Hallam stalks two deer hunters
in the wilderness. In that scene, Hallam stalks the men by running and hiding
like a phantom, and taunts the men with a menacing voice, which is delivered in
magnificent range, given the set piece. The rest of the movie sounds excellent,
as well, with dialogue sounding clearly, the action set pieces delivering raw
power, and very good background noise created by several sets in the movie.
Some good extras
here, including 4 featurettes; “Pursuing The Hunted”, “Filming The
Hunted”, “Tracking The Hunted”, and “The Cutting Edge”. Also featured
is a commentary track by William Friedkin, 8 deleted scenes, a trailer, as well
as trailers for The Core, The Indiana
Jones Collection, and the upcoming theatrical release, Timeline.