THE HUNTED Add To My Top 10

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Release Date: March 14, 2003

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro and Connie Nielsen

Genre: Action Thriller/Police
Thriller

Audience: Teenagers and adults REVIEWER:
Dr. Tom Snyder The American
soldier as a robotic killing
machine is the theme of THE
HUNTED, a thriller by William
Friedkin (THE EXORCIST and the
MOVIEGUIDE® Award-winning
movie for mature audiences
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT). Starring
Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio
Del Toro, Friedkin's movie is
an interesting and tense, but
violent and not completely
satisfying, action movie with
a message. The movie opens
with American soldier Aaron
Hallam, played by Benicio Del
Toro, engaged in stopping
brutal ethnic cleansing by a
rampaging Serbian commander
and his troops in Kosovo. As
the commander and his men
slaughter Muslim civilians in
cold blood, Hallam sneaks up
on the command post in a
Mosque and slits the
commander's throat. Tommy Lee
Jones plays L.T. Bonham, a
former special ops military
instructor in the art of
tracking, survival and brutal
knife assassinations. One of
L.T.'s former associates calls
him in to help them catch
Hallam. Viewers learn that
L.T. actually had trained and
mentored Hallam. Now, L.T.
feels guilty about his part in
training Hallam. Stopping
Hallam becomes L.T.'s personal
mission to expiate his
guilt. Friedkin's THE HUNTED
displays some of the classic
elements of modern police
thrillers established by
television cop shows and such
watershed 1968 movies as NO
WAY TO TREAT A LADY (based on
famous screenwriter William
Goldman's novel), director
Peter Yates' classic BULLITT
with Steve McQueen, and
director Don Siegel's MADIGAN.
Siegel's popular,
controversial 1971 movie DIRTY
HARRY, starring Clint
Eastwood, and Friedkin's own
Oscar-winning movie, THE
FRENCH CONNECTION, also from
1971, solidified this genre's
lasting impact on Hollywood.
Like these movies, the hero
in THE HUNTED, L.T., is
emotionally involved with the
criminal, in this case Hallam.
Consequently, L.T.'s chase
after Hallam becomes a case of
personal justice. In fact,
because L.T. trained Hallam to
do the murderous things he's
now doing to innocent
civilians, Hallam represents
negative elements of L.T.'s
own personality, things which
L.T. fears in himself and
things which L.T. has tried to
reject. Finally, THE HUNTED
also reflects the quality of
police thrillers where the
hero finds himself driven
outside the restrictions of
the law, because the law is
too narrow and ineffectual to
deal with the criminal and too
rigid to handle the hero's
need for personal
confrontation. Thus, in THE
HUNTED, L.T. separates himself
from the police officers
chasing Hallam because they,
and their system, are really
incapable of catching Hallam
and because L.T. needs to
expiate his guilt for creating
such a monster in the first
place. In this sense, THE
HUNTED becomes a tragic story,
because L.T. shares Hallam's
guilt. L.T. trained Hallam to
do what he does, and that
training has allowed Hallam to
be destroyed by the sinful,
violent nature which all of
mankind has within itself. In
the end, L.T. also must remain
banished from human society.
In fact, he banishes himself
by returning to the isolated
wilderness outpost in British
Columbia where he serves as
sort of a civilian ranger for
the Wildlife Fund. This part
of the movie shows that the
hero in police thrillers is an
extension of the American hero
in many westerns, where the
hero is often an archetypal
wanderer who is neither part
of Civilization nor part of
the vast landscape, or
Wilderness, in which he roams.
This is partly why many
westerns, like the endings to
SHANE and John Ford's THE
SEARCHERS, and many police
thrillers, like the endings to
BULLITT and DIRTY HARRY,
contain a tragic sense of
loss. The ending of THE HUNTED
falls squarely in the middle
of that fine mythic
tradition. THE HUNTED has a
light Christian worldview with
some moral elements. At the
beginning of the movie, for
example, Johnny Cash sings
some lines from Bob Dylan's
"Highway 61 Revisited," about
God telling Abraham to kill
his son. During the credits,
Johnny Cash also sings his
classic song, "When The Man
Comes Around," about the
Second Coming of Jesus Christ
separating the goats from the
sheep. Clearly, the hero in
THE HUNTED, L.T., represents
Abraham, and Hallam represents
Abraham's son, who must be
sacrificed to expiate L.T.'s
guilt. In the end, of course,
God spares the life of
Abraham's son, and substitutes
a lamb. Later, the Bible tells
us that Jesus Christ is the
Lamb of God, and the Son of
Man, who gave His life to save
us from our sins. Echoes of
this redemptive imagery exist
in the haunting lyrics of
Johnny Cash's warning song,
but although L.T. seems to
find some peace in THE HUNTED,
he does not find
salvation. Although THE HUNTED
contains much depth to its
characterizations, the action
and dialogue do not seem quite
as compelling as the movie's
song lyrics and visuals,
including its visual symbols.
Ultimately, therefore, THE
HUNTED may not completely
satisfy moviegoers, even
action movie fans. Despite the
redemptive, moral elements in
THE HUNTED, the movie contains
very strong violence, with
significant amounts of blood.
It also shows the brutality in
the military training that
L.T. has learned and that he
teaches Hallam and his other
students. The violence is not
quite as graphic as WE WERE
SOLDEIRS or SAVING PRIVATE
RYAN, however. THE HUNTED also
contains a modestly
significant amount of foul
language, including some
strong obscenities and
profanities, and some
environmentalist and
anti-hunter elements. Thus,
MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme
caution. Please address your
comments to: Sherry Lansing,
Chairman Motion Picture
Group Paramount Pictures A
Paramount Communications
Company 5555 Melrose
Avenue Los Angeles, CA
90038-3197 Phone: (323)
956-5000 Website:
www.paramount.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 94 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(C, B, E, PC, LL, VVV, A, D, M) Light Christian worldview with light moral elements, extreme violence, anti-war sentiments, and some environmentalist elements, including soldier suffering severe battle trauma starts slaughtering hunters to protect animals, also movie takes the politically-correct side of the Muslims in Kosovo battle scenes; about 15 obscenities, including some "f" words, two strong profanities and two light profanities; extreme violence, such as brutal knife fights with blood, intense battle scenes with explosions and with Serbian soldiers shooting civilians to death, American soldier slits Serbian commander's throat and face, horrible screams of two hunters heard as insane soldier attacks and kills them off screen, images of hunters' severed arms and legs, knife hits policeman in the neck and causes blood to spurt, another policeman attacked and his dead body is shown later from afar with blood on his white shirt, another dead body drips blood, fight in military van causes van to crash and killer soldier to escape, man falls into waterfall rapids and eventually swims to shore, hero chases antagonist onto speeding bus, and military training shown where instructor tells soldiers how to stab victims in arm, throat, heart, and lungs; no sex; no nudity; and, alcohol use, including man says he's fallen off the wagon; smoking; and miscellaneous problems, such as anti-hunting message.

GENRE: Action Thriller/Police Thriller

C

B

E

PC

LL

VVV

A

D

M

Summary:

THE HUNTED stars Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro in the story of a former military instructor who must stop one of his former students who has gone berserk. Despite some Christian and moral elements, THE HUNTED is very violent and contains some strong foul language.

Review:

The American soldier as a robotic killing machine is the theme of THE HUNTED, a thriller by William Friedkin (THE EXORCIST and the MOVIEGUIDE® Award-winning movie for mature audiences RULES OF ENGAGEMENT). Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro, Friedkin's movie is an interesting and tense, but violent and not completely satisfying, action movie with a message.

The movie opens with American soldier Aaron Hallam, played by Benicio Del Toro, engaged in stopping brutal ethnic cleansing by a rampaging Serbian commander and his troops in Kosovo. As the commander and his men slaughter Muslim civilians in cold blood, Hallam sneaks up on the command post in a Mosque and slits the commander's throat.

Tommy Lee Jones plays L.T. Bonham, a former special ops military instructor in the art of tracking, survival and brutal knife assassinations. One of L.T.'s former associates calls him in to help them catch Hallam. Viewers learn that L.T. actually had trained and mentored Hallam. Now, L.T. feels guilty about his part in training Hallam. Stopping Hallam becomes L.T.'s personal mission to expiate his guilt.

Friedkin's THE HUNTED displays some of the classic elements of modern police thrillers established by television cop shows and such watershed 1968 movies as NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY (based on famous screenwriter William Goldman's novel), director Peter Yates' classic BULLITT with Steve McQueen, and director Don Siegel's MADIGAN. Siegel's popular, controversial 1971 movie DIRTY HARRY, starring Clint Eastwood, and Friedkin's own Oscar-winning movie, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, also from 1971, solidified this genre's lasting impact on Hollywood.

Like these movies, the hero in THE HUNTED, L.T., is emotionally involved with the criminal, in this case Hallam. Consequently, L.T.'s chase after Hallam becomes a case of personal justice. In fact, because L.T. trained Hallam to do the murderous things he's now doing to innocent civilians, Hallam represents negative elements of L.T.'s own personality, things which L.T. fears in himself and things which L.T. has tried to reject. Finally, THE HUNTED also reflects the quality of police thrillers where the hero finds himself driven outside the restrictions of the law, because the law is too narrow and ineffectual to deal with the criminal and too rigid to handle the hero's need for personal confrontation. Thus, in THE HUNTED, L.T. separates himself from the police officers chasing Hallam because they, and their system, are really incapable of catching Hallam and because L.T. needs to expiate his guilt for creating such a monster in the first place.

In this sense, THE HUNTED becomes a tragic story, because L.T. shares Hallam's guilt. L.T. trained Hallam to do what he does, and that training has allowed Hallam to be destroyed by the sinful, violent nature which all of mankind has within itself. In the end, L.T. also must remain banished from human society. In fact, he banishes himself by returning to the isolated wilderness outpost in British Columbia where he serves as sort of a civilian ranger for the Wildlife Fund. This part of the movie shows that the hero in police thrillers is an extension of the American hero in many westerns, where the hero is often an archetypal wanderer who is neither part of Civilization nor part of the vast landscape, or Wilderness, in which he roams. This is partly why many westerns, like the endings to SHANE and John Ford's THE SEARCHERS, and many police thrillers, like the endings to BULLITT and DIRTY HARRY, contain a tragic sense of loss. The ending of THE HUNTED falls squarely in the middle of that fine mythic tradition.

THE HUNTED has a light Christian worldview with some moral elements. At the beginning of the movie, for example, Johnny Cash sings some lines from Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited," about God telling Abraham to kill his son. During the credits, Johnny Cash also sings his classic song, "When The Man Comes Around," about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ separating the goats from the sheep. Clearly, the hero in THE HUNTED, L.T., represents Abraham, and Hallam represents Abraham's son, who must be sacrificed to expiate L.T.'s guilt. In the end, of course, God spares the life of Abraham's son, and substitutes a lamb. Later, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, and the Son of Man, who gave His life to save us from our sins. Echoes of this redemptive imagery exist in the haunting lyrics of Johnny Cash's warning song, but although L.T. seems to find some peace in THE HUNTED, he does not find salvation.

Although THE HUNTED contains much depth to its characterizations, the action and dialogue do not seem quite as compelling as the movie's song lyrics and visuals, including its visual symbols. Ultimately, therefore, THE HUNTED may not completely satisfy moviegoers, even action movie fans.

Despite the redemptive, moral elements in THE HUNTED, the movie contains very strong violence, with significant amounts of blood. It also shows the brutality in the military training that L.T. has learned and that he teaches Hallam and his other students. The violence is not quite as graphic as WE WERE SOLDEIRS or SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, however. THE HUNTED also contains a modestly significant amount of foul language, including some strong obscenities and profanities, and some environmentalist and anti-hunter elements.

Thus, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.

Please address your comments to:

Sherry Lansing, Chairman

Motion Picture Group

Paramount Pictures

A Paramount Communications Company

5555 Melrose Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197

Phone: (323) 956-5000

Website: www.paramount.com

In Brief: