Reviews

It's a Meager Bounty in 'The Bounty Hunter'

The marketers behind The Bounty Hunter want you to think it's the next Hitch, but it can't even live up to those moderate standards.


The Bounty Hunter

Director: Andy Tennant
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Jeff Garlin
Length: 110 minutes
Studio: Columbia Pictures and Relativity Media
Year: 2010
Distributor: Sony
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive comments, language, and some violence
UK Release Date: 2010-07-26
US Release Date: 2010-07-13
Website

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.

2

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image