Out in the woods in Oregon, Aaron Hallam (Benicio Del Toro) has rebranded the idea of conserving wildlife. AWOL from the Special Forces, he slays four deer hunters who he is convinced are sweepers out to get him and then seemingly vanishes. The FBI call in tracker L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones) who may be the only one who is able to prevent him from killing again. However, he is deep in retirement, and doing his best to distance himself from his past. When he discovers that the murders he has been called in to investigate are by the hand of a man he taught to kill, L.T. feels somewhat responsible for the events, especially when he may have had the chance to prevent the whole thing from happening just by replying to the tortured Aaron’s letters. Both men share a tragically unbreakable bond, and whilst it is clear they will go into combat for the final time against each other, it is quite another matter as to who will be the hunter and who will become the hunted.
The Hunted is one of those films that will divide the majority of audiences. It is what it is, and therefore is something that most people will either love or hate, leaving those who probably aren’t a part of the more mainstream audiences on the fence with this one. I have to say that the film had its faults (many of them), but I did like the concept and some scenes were surprisingly tense and actually quite alright. However, I will slide more to the ‘hate it’ side of the spectrum because there was nothing in it that made me want to endure it again.
Admittedly though, the main reason I watched The Hunted was due to the names attached to it. I’m growing into quite a fan of Benicio Del Toro after recently watching a number of his films. As Aaron, he was clearly tortured. A lot of the events that unfolded in the film seemed to stem from a massacre that he witnessed and developed severe PTSD as a result of. Del Toro portrayed this part wonderfully, however there was nothing in his character that I can say I liked – I couldn’t cling onto any aspect of Aaron and therefore there was nothing there to keep me watching.
This was the same case with Jones’ character. Throughout the course of the film, L.T.’s appearance just seemed to grow rougher and rougher, but the substance of his character remained the same – virtually non-existent. For me, this posed a problem because, as I said before, there was nothing within the characters that made me want to stay and see what fate befell them when it came to the big stand-off at the end. I wasn’t really bothered about who died, and with a film such as this, where the whole story is built upon a cat and mouse chase and the two main characters fight for survival against each other, I think that is kind of a big issue.
I did like the general idea of the film though, it was just a shame about the unlikable characters and the poor execution. Some of the combat scenes – especially the grand finale – were brilliant but, like I said, the rest of the film let it down.
All in all, you shouldn’t be rushing to see The Hunted. You just cannot connect with the characters on an emotional level, no matter how good the actors who play them usually are, and because of this, it is very difficult to stay watching the film with the same level of interest all the way through.