The Hunted (2003)

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Released 7-Jul-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-William Friedkin (Director)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Pursuing The Hunted
Featurette-Making Of-Filming The Hunted
Featurette-Tracking The Hunted
Featurette-The Cutting Edge
Deleted Scenes-6
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 90:42
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By William Friedkin
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Tommy Lee Jones
Benicio Del Toro
Connie Nielsen
Leslie Stefanson
John Finn
Jos Ziga
Ron Canada
Mark Pellegrino
Aaron DeCone
Carrick O'Quinn
Lonny Chapman
Rex Linn
Eddie Velez
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Johnny Cash
Bob Dylan
Brian Tyler


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Dutch
French Titling
French Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, voiceover during opening credits

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Plot Synopsis

The Hunted, not to be confused with the 1995 release starring Christopher Lambert, is the latest film from veteran Hollywood director William Friedkin. Friedkin has a long list of films to his credit; some memorable ones such as The Exorcist and The French Connection, and other rather ordinary by-the-numbers efforts like Rules of Engagement.

This film starts off with a flashback to Kosovo in 1999, in which Aaron Hallam, played by Puerto Rican born actor Benicio del Toro (Traffic, The Usual Suspects), is on a mission to assassinate a militia leader. Hallam is obviously part of the US Special Forces and seems to prefer the use of a knife to dispatch his targets. We see him receive a medal for this mission and are aware that he has done this sort of thing many times before. This cumulative effect of his training, combat missions, and in particular, a feeling that he was deserted by his own people during one of his missions, has pushed him over the edge...

Now flash forward to present day USA, where the FBI and local police are trying, in vain, to track down whoever has murdered and ritually dissected 4 hunters in the forests. They call on the expert services of retired military man, LT Bonham (played by Tommy Lee Jones - Fugitive, Men in Black, Rules of Engagement), an expert at hunting and tracking. Bonham successfully tracks down the murderer who turns out to be, of course, Hallam, a former student of his in the Army (this is not a spoiler, as it all happens very early on in the film). Hallam is then arrested by FBI Agent Abby Durrell (Connie Nielsen - Mission to Mars, Gladiator, One Hour Photo). However, as he is being questioned back at the FBI offices, a couple of 'shady' looking officials turn up with authority to release him into their custody. That's when the rest of the story begins...

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Transfer Quality

Video

A very good video transfer has been provided on this DVD.

The transfer on this disc is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The ratio appears to match that of the original theatrical release.

The picture is crisp and sharp right throughout. Shadow detail is spot-on, for example at 59:40. This is just as well, as there is much action set indoors or in the low lighting conditions found in forests. There is no visible grain, even in the many scenes with huge swathes of snow or bright sky in the background.

Cinematographer Caleb Deschand (Patriot, The Right Stuff) has made use of a strong colour palette for this film. For example, there are strong reds/oranges used in the war scenes at the beginning, which contrast markedly with the cool blue tones used for the snow scenes that follow. The many forest scenes are accorded a 'natural' palette which doesn't seem to emphasise any particular colours. The colour transfer on this disc carries across these colours well, with no trace of any colour bleeding at any point.

There was very mild edge enhancement used at times, but it was barely noticeable. There was no aliasing at all, even in scenes where I was expecting to see traces of it, such as the close-ups of the mesh vests at 16:00.

This is a dual layered disc with the layer change to be found at 56:06. It is reasonably well placed during a close-up of a character's face. It resulted in a pause of about 0.5 seconds on my player.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

This release offers Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in both English and French. It is a great, modern, action movie soundtrack meaning that the surrounds and subwoofer are used almost constantly throughout the film.

Dialogue is clear at all times, even when there are a lot of sound effects in the background. It is also in sync with the actors' lip movements at all times.

The music, by Brian Tyler (Plan B, Sirens, Enterprise (TV)), suits the on-screen action well and helps build tension and suspense effectively when required through the use of very deep bass.

The rear surround speakers are used almost continuously throughout the film. They often carry discrete effects, such as during the combat scenes from 1:16 to 4:00. Effects are also panned from the right to left rear speakers. At 13:00 there is effective use of the rears to carry the voice of the unseen character which has a rather unnerving effect. The voice actually cycles between all speakers. Another example of the surrounds being used for effects and music is at 16:50.

The subwoofer is used very well to support both effects and music. For example, the explosions at 2:20, and the rumble of the tank at 3:48. As mentioned earlier, the music makes use of deep bass via the subwoofer to help build tension.

I also sampled the French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack which offers the same level of surround and subwoofer activity as the English, though at a slightly lower overall level.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio and Animation

The main menu is presented at 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. It has clips from the film accompanied by the theme music.

Audio Commentary - Director

This is a very interesting commentary by one of Hollywood's long-time directors, William Friedkin. He fills in much background information in many scenes and covers the story, the filmmaking process, the actors as well as imparting some technical information. He does seem to get a little 'preachy' at times but it's never overwhelming.

Featurette - Behind the Scenes - Pursuing the Hunted (8:08)

All four of the featurettes are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with scenes from the film presented in letterbox format. There are subtitles available in French and Dutch. These four featurettes appear to have been extracted from the one long documentary.

"Pursuing the Hunted" focuses on the main characters. For example, the character of LT Bonham was apparently based on a real life expert tracker, Tom Brown.

Featurette - Making of - Filming the Hunted (9:30)

More extracts from interviews with Friedkin, Tommy Lee Jones and other cast and crew. There is some behind the scenes footage as well as clips from the film itself as well as a bit of the usual 'homage' to the Director from other crew members.

Featurette - Tracking the Hunted (4:20)

This short featurette focuses on Tom Brown, the real-life character on whom the character of LT Bonham was based. Brown served as Technical Adviser on this film. He talks about his quest for authenticity in all scenes in the forest including setting up the scenes themselves, training the actors and even making the stone knives.

Featurette - The Cutting Edge (8:42)

This featurette focuses on the filming of the action sequences, in particular the knife fights and the climactic scenes near the waterfall.

Deleted Scenes

There are 6 deleted scenes provided on this disc. These can be played individually or using the 'Play All' option.

These scenes were obviously cut very late in the piece as they are all presented here in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. The accompanying sound appears to be in Dolby Surround 2.0. There are subtitles in French and Dutch.

Some of these scenes contain more background development of the main characters and might have benefited the film had they been left in. Other scenes such as extended sequences of Bonham climbing trees in the forest were perhaps best cut as they didn't add anything of value to the film.

It would have been good to have had a director's commentary for these scenes to help explain further why they were cut.

Theatrical Trailer (2:15)

The original trailer for The Hunted, presented in 1.78:1 letterbox format with Dolby 2.0 Surround audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The R1 version appears to have been released as separate widescreen and fullscreen (pan and scan) versions. The extras on each appear to be identical, and the same as we have been provided on the R4 release.

Consequently, unless you are really keen to have the fullscreen version, the R4 version is the better choice.

Summary

The Hunted is a bit of a mixed bag really. Technically it's great, with top notch video and audio quality. The film also promises much, with renowned director William Friedkin at the helm, and bringing together two respected actors in Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio del Toro. However, the story itself gives one a feeling of deja vu with nothing terribly original about it. Perhaps it's just from seeing Jones in yet another role as a pursuer, such as he protrayed in The Fugitive and US Marshals. I felt that del Toro was perhaps a bit wasted in his role as his character wasn't terribly well developed. Some of the deleted scenes might have helped in this regard.

Much has been made about the use of knives, rather than guns, in the combat sequences. Thankfully, Friedkin deliberately avoided using the annoying practice of extended slow-motion for close up combat scenes and presented them in 'real time' which I felt helped add to the realism of these scenes via the confusion and sudden movements.

I felt that some of the scenes showing the knife fighting training were perhaps a little gratuitous. Obviously these scenes were detailed in the film to add 'authenticity', but I felt they could inspire copycats, whether at play or with more serious intentions.

This film is worth a look if you're a fan of either of the lead actors, or of pursuit type films.

The video and audio transfer are superb with very little to complain about. The extras are quite comprehensive and include a detailed and interesting commentary from the Director as well as a handful of deleted scenes and featurettes.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Satish Rajah (don't read my bio!)
Saturday, January 24, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplaySony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2801
SpeakersMain: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10

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