Mediocre: The Hunted
Directed by William Friedkin
Written by David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths, Art Monterastelli
Produced by Richard Hawley, James Jacks, Ricardo Mestres, Art Monterastelli, Sean Daniel, David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths, Marcus Viscidi
Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Connie Nielsen, Leslie Stefanson, John Finn, José Zúñiga, Mark Pellegrino, Ron Canada
To this thriller concerning the pursuit of an accomplished Army assassin (Del Toro) turned sylvan serial killer by the tracker and survivalist (Jones) who trained him, Friedkin brought only his name and mere competence. Although the supporting players are fine and Jones reliably credible, wolfish Del Toro's decidedly erratic despite congruous casting; his thousand-yard stare is impeccable, physicality intimidating and presence as prodigious as any onscreen, but he overacts oddly with excessive cephalic gestures -- an unaccountable failing for a performer and director known for nuance. Stunts supervised by Buddy Joe Hooker are consistently crack, and under the oversight of choreographers Rafael Kayanan and Thomas Kier, Jones, Del Toro and their stunt doubles cut knife fights as select for their credibility as their excitement. Regrettably, contemporarily common flaws nullify impact and realism: wretched CG of blood spatter, volant blades and Jones carried downstream through rapids are embarrassingly bogus; Del Toro's C.O. woodenly recites for his men and the audience worthless exposition of their historic circumstances and mission on a battlefield late in the Kosovo War; Del Toro farcically flouts his hunters whilst hunting them; during an abeyance in a prolonged, conclusive chase, the leads find time to forge knives from stone and steel; like that of every other major motion picture produced during the aughts, Caleb Deschanel's photography is immoderately blued by filters. Ugh! Uncertainties constitute this story's only fascinating facets...how much of the wayward killer's paranoia regarding a conspiracy to neutralize him is sound? Can his bygone, irrespondent instructor subdue him for a want of bloody experience? In his heyday, these equivocalities and the consequences of mentorship and martial purpose in an age bereft of institutional loyalties would've been explored by Hurricane Billy...here, he's only expected to set his shots.
Instead, watch First Blood or Deliverance.