2017/11/29

Middling: The Hunted

The Hunted (2003)
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.

2017/11/24

Abysmal: Gate 2: The Trespassers

Gate 2: The Trespassers (1990)
Directed by Tibor Takács
Written by Michael Nankin
Produced by Andras Hamori, H. Gordon Woodside, Peter Bray, John Kemeny
Starring Louis Tripp, Pamela Segall, James Villemaire, Simon Reynolds, Neil Munro
Lightning hardly struck twice for Takács and Nankin, bankrolled with well over twice The Gate's budget to miscreate this charmless, plodding flop, which earned not a thirteenth of the preceding hit's passing yet profitable box office returns when finally released first to European, then American theaters a few years after its completion. Spurred by curiosity and discontent with his father (Munro), a widowed, stereotypically alcoholic aviator, the unsightly nerd (Tripp) from the first flick stupidly opens the transdimensional passage through which his suburb was terrorized a couple years anterior. As every disaster resulting is worsened by the follies of an interloping, shiftless punk (Villemaire) and his brainless buddy (Reynolds), the former's cute, inexplicable girlfriend gravitates to Tripp's geeky amateur magus. Some decent stop-motion and makeup effects imaging one of the many monstrous little minions who harried Stephen Dorff in the prior picture and some larger counterparts are squandered on a senseless script that enlarges trifold a plot fit for a half-hour with asinine antics and asides. Tripp was scarcely satisfactory when paired with Dorff, and hasn't the personality or proficiency to carry the lead of a sitcom episode, much less a feature. Still, he's tolerable compared to Villemaire and Reynolds, who enhance their churlish cretins with the most peeving possible performances. Only Segall exudes any amenity whatever (just enough to salvage her close-ups); given her love interests, hers seems almost a doughty effort. This movie's as much a waste of any viewer's time as it was its production's resources; avoid it scrupulously.