Paramount Pictures | Release Date: March 14, 2003
Universal acclaim based on 110 Ratings
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spadenxDec 9, 2011
Wow hated on so much, I loved it. Thought it was entertaing through out and well worth the watch, Good acting and action as well. It could have used a bit more story though. I would give it an 8 but thanks to negative reviews - I am giving it a 10.
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SpangleJul 21, 2017
William Friedkin's The Hunted is a perfect pairing of director and material, which is why it is so disappointing to watch The Hunted turn out to be a largely pale and rather dull exercise. A cat-and-mouse film, The Hunted pits L.T. BonhamWilliam Friedkin's The Hunted is a perfect pairing of director and material, which is why it is so disappointing to watch The Hunted turn out to be a largely pale and rather dull exercise. A cat-and-mouse film, The Hunted pits L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones) against Aaron Hallam (Benicio del Toro). A former trainee of Bonham's, Hallam has become unhinged after suffering from some type of PTSD in Kosovo. Now back in America, he kills everybody he believes to be involved in a conspiracy against him, still works for the government, and takes the murder of animals by hunters very personally. A trained killer who is pretty damn good at it, Hallam is tracked down by Bonham. Similarly talented and a master tracker, Bonham and Hallam are a classic cat-and-mouse pairing of two equally skilled opponents with a close connection in their past. Making the film relatively tragic, this connection is one that Friedkin really beats home throughout, but that is hardly the film's main area of weakness. With true and absolute implausibility maligning this picture, The Hunted is a film that plays like a rehash of any number of 1980s action movies or even work by Friedkin himself. Lacking the spirit and style of those, however, The Hunted winds up being nothing more than an incredibly dull experience.

The film's eye-rolling nature largely comes at the beginning and at the very end. With a reading from the Bible regarding God asking Abraham to kill his son book-ending the film, Friedkin practically screams out the Biblical parallels of the story given that Aaron views L.T. as a father figure. Having killed multiple me, Aaron is a man who must go down and L.T. views it as his duty to do just that. If he gave him all he knows, then he is the one responsible for how he acts. The theme and idea would be quite nice and a smart parallel to make if it were not so overt. Going so far as reading the same quote twice and then showing it to us in the middle of the film, Friedkin seems to have no idea how to make that Biblical element subtle without spelling out to the audience in the process.

The film also missteps with the character of Aaron. Introducing to us as a man suffering from PTSD who is a trained killer unable to identify his friends from his enemies, The Hunted tries to make him sympathetic. To some degree, we already are given his past and what he has seen. The fact that he is unhinged now is a tragic occurrence and result of war that makes him a sympathetic figure. However, tossing in his girlfriend and her daughter as a way to humanize him comes off as quite corny and cheesy, instead of actually taking time to explore the character further. Friedkin's film tries to take the shortcut way to making a character sympathetic, fails, and then falsely assumes it has succeeded. The end result is that its central cat-and-mouse is not a battle between a grieving father and a sadly wayward son. It is a grieving father against an insane but tragic son. In trying to play up how Aaron is misunderstood, Friedkin creates a visual parallel to King Kong where Aaron climbs to the top of a bridge, the camera spins around as he surveys the area around him, and helicopters circle around him. It is a nice touch, but Aaron is hardly a sympathetic and misunderstood figure like Kong, due to the film's unwillingness to actually build out the character.

As a cat-and-mouse thriller, Friedkin knows how to do chase scenes like no other. Inventive, imaginative, and expertly handled, the chase scenes contribute to The Hunted feeling a tight, slimmed down, and truly engaging work that is merely an excuse for the man to have somebody chase another. Oddly enough, given who is in control of these chase scenes, that is often more than enough in the film to give it a truly pulse pounding edge. While it does make the film feel rather limited since that is the only trick in its bag, excellent choreography and terrific action set pieces make the film as a whole really click when it allows the chase and tracking to take centerstage. Where it slows down and really dials down is when the chases stop and Friedkin half-heartedly works through a plot to get back to the chases.
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