In spite of some truly horrible films from this director,(THE GUARDIAN, “JADE”) it’s hard not to hope for another masterpiece(ala “FRENCH CONNECTION”, “EXORCIST”) to come from him.
An adventure thriller highlighting the talents of “Tommy Lee Jones and “Benicio Del Toro”, sounds like the makings for great entertainment. As the film opens, we’re introduced to Tommy Lee Jones as L.T. Bonham, a tracker who’s not afraid to use his might for right! After saving a wolf from a horrible, illegal trap, he gives the perpetrator a good beating. We’re also introduced in flashback, to Aaron Hellam, a Special Forces soldier, using his adaptive killing skills to eliminate some ruthless mass genocidal murderers in Kosovo as part of an American Military mission.
It’s hard not to gleefully wait in anticipation of what’s to come! However, within minutes, when two hunters in the Pacific Northwest, are suddenly hunted down by Hellam in the woods, the script takes a spiral downward into utter stupidity, and throws any continued expectations for an intelligent, well-crafted thriller out the window! It’s nerve-racking to find someone as obviously talented as Friedkin’s proven to be, resort to having the Hallam character throw his voice around the woods, intending to terrify the hunters even more in a particular scene. While it “sounds” great via the 5.1 mix here, it plays exactly like Baldwin’s Lamont Cranston in “THE SHADOW”, ultimately, a less silly and far better film!
As one poorly threaded scene unfolds into another the outline of a subplot and a twist appears to be in the making, but alas, to no avail. Instead, “THE HUNTED” plays like a series of sequences built around the childhood game “You’re IT”, with one character tagging the other, and reversed, on and on and on, to the point of pointlessness! Friedkin’s use of a particular Johnny Cash Song, played at the beginning and end, is obviously intended to make a statement of some sort about the symbolic father/son/Frankenstein/monster creation relationship between the two main characters, but instead it just comes across as something condescending, because the song actually has much more depth than the film ever manages!
PARAMOUNT has preserved the film’s correct aspect ratio, and it’s a terrific transfer! Colors are solid, and often vibrant. As evidenced in the opening Sarajevo battle sequences, the contrast is flawless, offering impeccable detail in very dark sequences. The fleshtones appear natural throughout.
PARAMOUNT has included a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for this release. There are plenty of surround/panning/directional effects, making it a very aggressive and engaging mix. However, for some reason, dialogue is muffled at times, apparently buried under various layers of music and sound effects!
PARAMOUNT has included some brief featurettes, exploring the fight sequences and more. A deleted scene segment offers nothing really worthwhile, save for one in which Hallam’s faith is explored with some minor detail.
Director William Friedkin provides a running commentary for the release, but as with many of his previous commentaries, offers little rhyme or reason to most of his questionable decisions.
A theatrical trailer is also included.