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Hacktreks 2

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Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Connie Nielsen, Jenna Boyd, Leslie Stefanson
Directed by: William Friedkin
Produced by: James Jacks, Ricardo Mestres
Written by:
David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths, Art Monterastelli
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

'These men mean business and their business is death'.

More a cat vs. cat pursuit thriller than a cat vs. mouse one - given that both the hunter and the hunted are expert backwoodsmen and wilderness trackers - William Friedkin’s THE HUNTED pits L.T.Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones), a civilian instructor in lethal hand- to- hand combat, against his ace pupil Special Services silent assassin Aaron Hallam (Benico del Toro).

Hallam is afflicted with severe post- traumatic -stress disorder and is slaying deer hunters in the Oregon woods to salve his fevered conscience. "L.T." who has yet to kill a man, has retired to the B.C. wilderness to salve his superego. L.T. fears that he is the Dr. Frankenstein who has created this remorseless and monstrous killing-machine.

Thus we have the classic duality of good father and evil son, the father instrumental in his son’s amorality, that has always been a key theme in American literature, as well as the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, the father ordered to smite his son dead, or defy God’s will.

Bonham captures his star pupil swiftly only to find and then lose him a second time. Thus setting in motion a gruelling and incessant chase mostly on foot across the entire city of Portland. Despite it being a preposterous macho mano-a-mano series of bloody duels, notable for their extreme brutality. THE HUNTED is entirely gripping for most of its length. Vicious homemade knives are the weapons of choice and when our protagonists are cut and slashed and bleed profusely you feel every wound as it is inflicted. These men mean business and their business is death. Such men are of course always being trained by the military. And commonly they are unable to cast off their murderous skills, once they returned as civilians. Veterans of the last Gulf War commonly went berserk on their return Stateside.

THE HUNTED begins with a gruesome scene of massacre in Kosovo during the Bosnian- Serbian civil war. Hallam is tortured by his memories of this barbaric conflict in which he played a key role as silent killer. He appears to be locked into the futile re-enactment of his battle ‘heroics’.

Eventually for all of the filmmaking skill, and the truly astonishing stunts performed – largely enacted by the principal actors themselves it seems – THE HUNTED does not fully develop its underlying and portentous themes of Father-Son and of Dr.Frankenstein- Monster. It remains as a vigorous and rather sententious action melodrama most notable for the conviction lent by the players and the sheer plausibility of its intense and frequent of bloody sweat-soaked mayhem. You leave the theatre exhausted but not elated at having witnessed a Biblical duel exorcised.

© Alex Grant March 2003

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