Hunt to Kill
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Hunt to Kill

Blu-ray

DVD

Movies have the tendency to infuse their scripts with themes that are, as the popular saying goes, ripped from the headlines. Giving the audience a means to blur fact and fiction may seem implausible at times but history bears out a truism that the public is predisposed to such a mixture happily ignoring reality in exchange for an entertaining flick. While horror movies are best known for this type of plot device but the action film is not far behind. The main difference in this regard between these two genres is the action film can easily employ mundane circumstances, amplifying them to extreme levels in order to drive the often flimsy framework of a story. While a plot is generally considered a positive factor in ant flick the action movie is frequently unencumbered by such baggage in order to make room for the important, defining elements currently required by this type of film; explosions, gunfire and gritty men in tattered clothes wreaking havoc on any carbon based life form in the general vicinity. One recent flick in a long line of such faire is ‘Hunt to Kill’. Typical of the action movie the title pretty much discloses what the movie is about; there is someone hunting someone else and the intent is to kill them. The cover of the Blu-ray provides the other piece of necessary information; the star is ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. Action stars frequently get started in my different areas but the current trend is to recruit them from the halls of the World Wrestling Federation or whatever the organization calls itself at the moment. Although actual acting ability is not a prerequisite for this sort of a career shift the professional wrestler is well trained in the combination of imposing physicality and the projection of a threatening, imposing persona. Say what you will about action hero actors at least two have gone on to becoming governors.

I was not surprised that the screen writer for this flick, Frank Hannah, only had a few scripts under his belt. It is not unusual for a writer to start building recognition in the trade with a few high octane scripts. In his case he penned the aptly named ‘Crash and Burn ‘and ‘Damage’ to help flesh out his resume. What did surprise me was his screenplay for the emotionally driven character portrait, ‘The Cooler’ about a hapless man so unfortunate he is employed by a Vegas casino to cool off winning streaks. That film depended on the opposite of what is found in most action movies; a story demanding a full emotional range from the cast and an audience willing to pay attention to the plot in order to discern what is occurring. Even more perplexing is that screenplay was his freshman opus. The theme, as it were, of these movies are often forwarded but a series of clichés strung together. Hannah moves to get a few well trod paths out of the way before the opening title sequences starts. Jim Rhodes (Steve Austin) and his partner Lee Davis (Eric Roberts) is U.S. Border Patrol agent working the deserts of the Texas-Mexican border. There is nothing more dangerous than announcing you are leaving the job; Jim has just received a promotion to a desk job. Since Jim has a pretty teenage daughter, Kim (Marie Avgeropoulos) he decides to accept it. Lee, chides his friend that he was intended to work in the field with him but Lee concedes giving Jim a watch with a band that unravels into a metal rope. While on a stake out they spot what looks to be an abandoned trailer. Jim wants to call for back up but Lee wants to charge in. Jim shouts that he has Lee’s ‘Six’ and although that is a military expression meaning to follow behind or ‘I got your back’ Jim rushes out ahead. Okay. The place looks like a deserted meth lab an as they are about to clear out a couple of bad guts pop up from a hidden panel in the floor starting a gunfight. The place is in flames, Lee mortally wounded and a third criminal threatens Jim’s daughter and is about to kill him when the dying Lee gets him. Jim barely has enough time to jump clear before the first explosion of the film.

The rest of the film plays out strictly by the numbers although there are a couple of appearances that will be appreciated by the science fiction crowd. In Reno a near perfect heist was pulled off in part due in part to the high tech wizardry of Geary (Michael Eklund) the crew steals billions in bearer bonds. Also providing some familiar faces is the femme fatale Dominika played by ‘Sanctuary’s ‘Emilie Ullerup, ‘Battlestar Galatica’s Michael Hogan as the leader Logan and Gil Bellows as the mercenary Banks there is a double cross, crooks chasing crooks and the ever popular kidnapped rebellious teen daughter resulting in a father on a mission and ‘This time its personal’. This film has a better than average set up the pacing falls short of the demands of the genre. The word action strongly implies something actually going on. With this film there is a dire lack of said action in this film. The film simmers nicely, building in a way that is fairly uncommon for the genre. This leads to a denouement tying up the loose ends as well as several body bags. While I have nothing against a plot that is carefully developed in this particular instance you watch this kind of flick for the action not the story. Adding to this the performances is stunted, more on par with a training exercise regrettably including actors with a far better track record. A flick like this is better served by just throwing reality to the wind and going all out wall to wall action. As it is it regrettably falls short of a Saturday afternoon popcorn flick.

Posted 11/06/2010

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