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  Film Reviews: There Was A Story At One Time: The Hunted  

Monday, April 7
There Was A Story At One Time: The Hunted
How is it that two award-winning actors, a beautiful setting, a lot of action and a good idea make for a terrible film? Picture a table in front of you – it is made of the finest exotic woods at that expensive furniture store that’s polished to an unbelievable shine. Add to that your Grandmother’s best china – the kind the adults ate on at the big table at Thanksgiving. Add to that your aunt’s antique crystal water goblets with the delicate pink glow. Finally, you might remember that fancy dinner you went to with your parents (you had to be on your best behavior) where you ate with ornate silver pieces.

Separately, these things were beautiful. But you know if you were to put them together, you’d see that they made the most garish table setting ever seen. You wouldn’t want to eat a meal at that table.

So – we already know the actors. Benicio Del Toro and Tommy Lee Jones have both made great movies in the past. The film is set largely in Oregon which is quite picturesque (really, you should go sometime). The action is everywhere in this film – war, nature and the city – and doesn’t rely on explosions. The story has been done before (see Rambo), but the idea of dealing with a government-trained assassin when there’s no one left to kill is an intriguing one.

Unfortunately, none of it actually goes together. It’s a mess once it gets to the screen.

There are hints that this film might have been something else at one point – based on the credits there was at least one major re-write and I might imagine that there were several uncredited rewrites. The rewrites were sloppy – hints that Tommy Lee Jones’ character is afraid of heights never become part of the final story. A bond Benito del Toro has formed with a single mother and her daughter makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Similarly, a great deal is mad of a Silver Star award for military service but the FBI is unable to find any record of Del Toro beyond his entrance into the military (there is paperwork involved in these kind of things). Each of the main characters in the film feels a need to serve as protector to wild animals being unfairly treated by man, but no explanation is ever offered as to why.

Worse yet, I’m never really sure who I’m supposed to feel sorry for. Do I feel sorry for the trained assassin who has no place to go? Do I feel sorry for the man that must live with the fact that he’s trained men to kill while never having killed himself? Do I identify with the no-nonsense FBI agent trying to prove that she has the ability to solve this case? Do I feel sorry for the little girl who only adores the assassin because he teaches her how to tell the difference between raccoon and squirrel tracks in the back yard? Do I feel sorry for the hunters that were brutally murdered – even though the film goes out of its way to show that they’re worthless human beings?

Honestly, I don’t know. This film will go down as being another in a long line of forgettable action films that are supposed to be character-driven. Someday, someone will actually get this right – if you think that you’re that person, please do everyone a favor and rent a bunch of these films to see how not to set the table first.

The Usual:

What It’s Worth: Don’t even subject yourself to the HBO multi-view. You might miss “Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal” on Cinemax.

Annoying Theater Goer: See, there weren’t many people in the theater. I think we were all struck dumb trying to process the fact that we’d actually paid to see this film.

Main Reason to See This Film: You want to see Tommy Lee Jones run like he can keep up with a man 30-years younger than him. Really, it’s as entertaining as it sounds.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: It exists.

MPAA Rating: R

Nudity: No.

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