There are a number of issues with The Bounty Hunter, the latest cliché-ridden romantic comedy from director Andy Tennant. Yes, the man directed the affable 2005 hit Hitch, but it got by on the acceptable charm of Will Smith and mostly genial sass of Eva Mendes. Tennant’s latest has only the bland Gerard Butler and the usually funny, always-sexy Jennifer Aniston. Though the drop off in talent is obvious going in, there is no way these or any other actors could have saved the abysmal material found here.
Milo Boyd (Butler) is a bit down on his luck. He was kicked off the police force, has $11,000 in gambling debts, and is about to be divorced. He spends his days and nights chasing down parole jumpers in his new job as a bounty hunter and avoiding his angry soon to be ex-wife, Nicole Hurley (Aniston).
Other than being inexplicably steamed at her ex (they never delve into the exact reasons why she’s so mad), Nicole seems to be doing pretty well. Her career is taking off. Her apartment is astounding. Plus, she’s a pretty good-looking lady so she shouldn’t be sweating the loss of her oddball ex.
Then one of her contacts goes missing, and Nicole expects the worst. Unfortunately, the only time they could meet was during her court date for a minor traffic accident. So she skips it, doesn’t make it in time to see her contact, and is thus a wanted felon. This, of course, proves to be a stroke of luck for Milo who gets the opportunity to be paid for bringing his ex to jail. Can he really do it, though? Can he really turn in the woman he once loved enough to say “til death do us part”?
Lucky for him and unlucky for the audience, quite a few events unfold before he’s truly forced to make that decision. Some of them are legitimate and some are what I imagine are supposed to be fun diversions the audience accepts despite their illogical conception. For example, the people who kidnapped Nicole’s contact come looking for her and Milo has to protect her instead of driving straight to the police (though, looking back, taking her to the police could have been a form of protection). This circumstance falls under the legitimate category. At least, it’s reasonable for the genre.
What’s unreasonable is when Nicole baits Milo into a detour at an Atlantic City casino. It’s not too far fetched to believe a gambling addict would spend a night throwing more of his money away, but it does stretch rationality how quickly he agrees to it. She drops a hint that he can’t win money gambling anymore and the next thing you know he’s left her alone in the hotel room while he goes downstairs to play craps. He may not care about his job, but he is supposed to desperately want to embarrass his soon to be ex-wife by bringing her in to the station in handcuffs. It’s his main motivation for most of the movie and he abandons it at the drop of a hat.
Perhaps it’s not the film’s most egregious flaw, but it’s a throwaway action in a movie full of them. The characters motivations only exist for the duration of each scene. For the first 20-minutes we’re supposed to believe these two hate each other and have been driven so far apart the ex-husband takes nothing but pleasure in his ex-wife’s legal troubles. Then, suddenly, they might be rekindling their romance Then they’re not. They hate each other again. Wait, they don’t. They do!
Who cares? Nicole certainly doesn’t seem to for most of the film. There’s certainly emotion there, but the script never provides enough motivation for her to really have a preference whether she ends up with Milo or not. Milo doesn’t seem to, either. Sure, his life’s gone downhill since the separation, but his mood is either constantly fake or truly cheerful. There’s no real emotion written into the movie and there’s very little comedy.
Butler has yet to prove himself as an entertaining comedic actor even if Aniston has, but again the two could never have saved the script. Aniston’s strengths don’t exactly lie in ad-libbing, and most of the so-called humor found in The Bounty Hunter is based around the couple’s hatred for one another. The few chuckles provided we’ve had before.
The special features are more of the same. There’s a 17-minute making-of featurette, an 11-minute location scouting exercise, and a two-minute highlight reel deceptively titled “Rules for Outwitting a Bounty Hunter”. The latter serves as nothing more than a recut trailer with a few generic terms about how Nicole messed around with Milo throughout the film. The first two are pretty generic, but at least the stars are involved. After all, they are the only ones I would imagine anyone would care about seeing, even if they couldn’t muster the chemistry of Smith and Mendes.