The Hunted William Friedkin

The Hunted William Friedkin
It's hard to resist calling this the thinking man's First Blood. Truth by told though, any man solidly satisfied with such pointlessness couldn't be thinking all that much. In fact, next to The Hunted, Sylvester Stallone's portrayal of a slack-jawed Vietnam vet is rife with historical context, a veritable hallmark of a lost war generation. All Rambo really wanted when he stopped in that sleepy rural town was a cheeseburger, but in this stylish yet derivative new thriller, Benicio Del Toro just grinds his own meat. Trading in Stallone's slack jaw for a pair of knowing, heavy-lidded eyes, Del Toro plays Aaron Hallam, a brutal assassin trained by the U.S. military and a veteran of recent, particularly bloody offensives in Kosovo. When shellshock and a lifetime of living as a killing machine collide, Hallam snaps and heads for the wilds of Oregon. Area hunters soon mysteriously turn up sliced and diced by human hands, and the FBI is called in to solve the mystery. (Hey, forget the feds, get man-versus-nature scribe John Krakauer in there to scope out a new book. Into Thin Plot, anyone?) But the only person who can really solve the crimes is L.T. Bonham. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones, in Grizzly Adams mode) is a tracker, a man of nature who teaches men how to kill efficiently with their bare hands, but loathes the act himself. He just so happens to also have taught Hallam everything he knows. Before he can chomp gum and drawl a Fugitive-style, "Where you at, Benicio?" the hunt is ostensibly on, but the movie is basically over. Director Friedkin (The Exorcist) massages lame dialogue and brute violence admirably (the fight scenes are particularly authentic), and famed cinematographer Caleb Deschanel adds deft touches of beauty, but it's essentially gussied-up B-movie fare. Friedkin's certainly done worse (ahem, Jade), but should he really be forgiven for cribbing his own genre masterpiece, The French Connection, with a lame cat-and-mouse foot chase through a Portland L-Train? Somehow, it's not the same without Popeye Doyle. And, I suppose, a point. Extras: director's commentary; featurettes; deleted scenes; more. (Paramount)