Hunted, The

Rated: R
Stars:   Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Connie Nielsen, Leslie Stefanson, John Finn, Jose Zuniga
Director:    William Friedkin
Screenwriters:    David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths, Art Monterastelli

Everything about this movie is sparse: its story, the characters, the setting, the dialogue. It’s no frills action is jammed neatly into a 94-minutes running time. Even that is lean by today’s standard of a super action film. What works best about it are its stars Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro and the realistic action, particularly the hand-to-hand combat sequences, which the actors obviously worked so hard to effect. Still, this is a by-the-numbers standard yet competent chase film.

Tommy Lee Jones stars as L. T. Bonham, a civilian tracker-survivalist who worked as a military adviser teaching elite special operations agents how to do their jobs expertly. One agent, Aaron Hallam (Del Toro) has spent too much hard time in the killing fields (in this case, in Kosovo) where he cleaned up the Serbian ethnic cleansers and has come back to the United States as an out of control killing machine. His prey, this time around, is unsuspecting deer hunters and forest rangers up in Oregon. The FBI, desperately in need of a lead, comes looking for L.T., who true to his survivalist nature lives in a secluded cabin in the wilds of British Columbia. L.T. doesn’t “do that kind of work anymore” so he’s unappreciative of the disturbance. But it doesn’t take long for him to be convinced that he needs to get with the program. After he does, he recognizes Aaron’s handiwork, knowing that it was he who trained him. Now it’s up to L.T. to bring him in. So begins the cat and mouse chase through Oregon’s lush forests and cascading rivers and over and under Portland’s city streets. It’s pretty much a one man show; L.T., of course, works alone, with only the occasional assist from the FBI.

There are some Biblical thematic elements thrown in: “God said to Abraham kill me a son” and L.T. becomes the father figure who must take it upon himself to complete a similar task to “son” Aaron who has become so mentally stressed from the horrors he has seen and inflicted on others. Jones and Del Toro look the part of weary soldiers who know they still have important jobs to do. I liked not having to suffer through a May-December romance between Jones and FBI agent Abby Durrell (the pretty Connie Nielsen), who was heading up the investigation. It was pretty much all business between them. The film was elegantly photographed and, thanks to its minimalist nature, well directed.

Lotta says: a decent chase thriller; no surprises. Enjoyable overall. Rated R for strong violence and some language.

Reviewed 3/16/03