The Hunted (2003)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller  |   Release Date - Mar 14, 2003 (USA)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Hastings

Dumb if not completely inept, director William Friedkin's lean, mean mano a mano pursuit picture proves to be a passable time-waster, even if its plot seems to have been completely excised in favor of thrills. It's hard to determine whether the lack of character development and exposition in The Hunted is due to a studio-mandated recut or a stylistic choice on the part of Friedkin; either way, the movie feels neutered and distant. In its current form, there's little to no insight on why elite commando Benicio del Toro would blow a gasket and make a career change to serial-killing game hunters in the woods surrounding Portland. (Of course, if a ludicrous interrogation scene near the beginning of the film is any indication, the less of Peter and David Griffiths' dialogue there is to be heard, the better.) The best scenes are the most direct: The few flashback sequences between del Toro and ex-mentor Tommy Lee Jones are enticingly pulpy, and they dovetail well with the tactical, nuts-and-bolts action set pieces, which Friedkin directs with characteristic adroitness. Ultimately, however, there's little reason to care about who lives or dies, and what could've been a violent little masterpiece worthy of Sam Fuller ends up being no more than a curiously unaffecting thrill ride.