Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Hunted – About as Deep as a Puddle After a Sun-Shower

Written by David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths, and Art Monterastelli
Directed by William Friedkin

Some actors seem to manage to pick the same roles over and over again. Robin Williams is notorious for this as many of the characters he portrays are terribly similar. I always thought the characters Tom Cruise portrayed in Days of Thunder and Top Gun were twins separated at birth.

Along comes Tommy Lee Jones in a movie titled The Hunted. His character is a disaffected FBI agent who’s pretty sharp. The tenacity with which he approaches an investigation is reminiscent of Jones’ characters in The Fugitive and U.S. Marshals. For that matter, it was similar to his character in Volcano.

The Hunted opens with some pretty graphic scenes of brutality over in Kosovo in 1999. People are being slaughtered left and right, although we don’t really know what for. Are they the good guys being persecuted? Are they the bad guys being punished? Does it really matter?

Aaraon Hallam (portrayed by Benicio Del Toro) is there. He’s been specially trained by the military to survive in some pretty horrific conditions. One of the things he was taught was how to kill with a knife, and that’s shown pretty graphically. He comes home and is plagued by nightmares, despite being awarded a Silver Star for his service. He soon turns to hunting and killing deer hunters. These hunters are well-equipped with the highest technology for hunting the animals, and he slaughters them with knives.

Enter aging FBI Agent L.T. Bonham (portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones). He’s shown right from the beginning as being pretty sharp as he tracks wildlife around his cabin in the rural woods. He’s visited by an old friend and agent and asked to come back. He does so reluctantly after viewing the mutilation of the two hunters.

As he’s looking for clues, he meets up with Aaron and we learn that L.T. was the one who taught Aaron how to kill. Aaron’s brought in, and from there the movie takes on the same feeling as The Fugitive, only this time the guy’s not innocent.

While The Hunted is pretty good when it comes to the action factor and several of the fighting scenes, where it misses is creating characters the audience cares about. That’s pretty sad when you figure the heavy material it’s dealing with, but it’s like lines were put out there for no apparent reason. It’s as if the writers put stuff out there that are superficial in why the people are saying it, but the deep subject they are talking about is expected to make up for the lack of depth in the characters. At one point, Hallam asks L.T. the question: What if there were a species higher than human beings on the food chain? This provocative question never goes anywhere.

Another bright spot is Benicio del Toro. He’s damn good as the psychotic killer who’s been turned on and given awards for his work in Kosovo and now can’t turn it off. There are a few tender moments when he is with the daughter of an ex-girlfriend. Del Toro makes both ends of the spectrum for this character believable, giving Hallam a protective edge toward the girl. I had the feeling that had someone he didn’t like even approached the girl, he would have had no problems slicing the person’s head off.

Jones’ character is too much a copy of other characters he’s portrayed, and there’s little depth put out there for me to care about him. It was a chase film, pure and simple, and while the fighting was pretty good, most of what’s here came too close to what Jones has done before in The Fugitive and U.S. Marshals for it to feel fresh. Jones doesn’t do a horrible job; he’s just the same as he always is. The Hunted could have just been a sequel to U.S. Marshals and probably worked a little better with the audience having a vested interest in his character.

The Hunted has potential that it never quite reaches, and for that reason, it’s a film to pass on. It’s a shame because such great talent is wasted with a script that just has so little depth I found myself not caring who survived in the end.


” Commentary by Director William Friedkin
” Documentaries
” Deleted Scenes
” Theatrical Trailer