The Hunted (2003 film)

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The Hunted
Theatrical release poster
Directed by William Friedkin
Produced by Ricardo Mestres
James Jacks
Written by David Griffiths
Peter Griffiths
Art Monterastelli
Starring Tommy Lee Jones
Benicio del Toro
Connie Nielsen
Music by Brian Tyler
Cinematography Caleb Deschanel
Edited by Augie Hess
Lakeshore Entertainment
Alphaville Films
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (US/Worldwide)
Redbus Film Distribution (UK)
Release dates
March 14, 2003 (2003-03-14)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $55 million
Box office $45,496,534[1]

The Hunted is a 2003 American action thriller film directed by William Friedkin and starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio del Toro. Brian Tyler composed the film's score.


In the Pacific Northwest wilderness, two businessmen from Medford, Oregon who are hunting for game with telescopically sighted rifles are viciously murdered by Aaron Hallam (Benicio del Toro), a former clandestine operator who is hiding in the wilderness from his would-be government captors. L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones), a former civilian trainer of military assassins, is approached and asked to help apprehend Hallam, a former student of his. According to the authorities, the younger man has gone renegade after suffering severe battle stress from his time in the Kosovo War.

Bonham agrees and is assisted in the manhunt by an FBI task force, led by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Abby Durrell (Connie Nielsen). It is Bonham himself who locates and apprehends Hallam after tracking him and finding the subterranean den in which he's been living. After a blistering bout of close-quarter combat in which the much older Bonham seems on the verge of losing, Hallam is captured by the arriving agents. During his interrogation, Hallam states that he went AWOL because the Army now seeks to kill him before he can divulge information regarding off-the-books assignments he's carried out.

This narrative is confirmed when the local authorities as well as the FBI are circumvented by nameless government agents who arrive and present documentation allowing them to take possession of the prisoner.

While being transported by his former special handlers in the back of a nondescript-looking panel truck, Hallam manages to kill all the operatives and escape. Alerted to the incident, Bonham and the FBI team arrive at the scene and the chase begins again. The team tracks Hallam across the city and back into the wilderness but Hallam consistently evades them. Realizing that the FBI's tactics aren't working, Bonham strikes out on his own and the search quickly becomes a personal contest between teacher and student, finally culminating in another desperate battle amongst the waterfalls of a national forest.

Bonham kills his own student by stabbing him in the chest with a knife. The FBI arrives too late, and Bonham walks away without saying a word. Bonham returns to British Columbia, where he starts to burn letters that were sent to him from Hallam, explaining that he had been obsessed to find his teacher.



The film was partially filmed in and around Portland, Oregon and Silver Falls State Park. Portland scenes were filmed in Oxbow Park, the South Park Blocks, and Tom McCall Waterfront Park.[2] The technical adviser for the film was Tom Brown, Jr., an American outdoorsman and wilderness survival expert. The story is partially inspired by a real-life incident involving Brown, who was asked to track down a former pupil and Special Forces sergeant who had evaded capture by authorities. This story is told in Tom's book, Case Files Of The Tracker.

Fight choreography[edit]

The unusually realistic, brutal hand to hand combat and knife fighting in the film featured Filipino Martial Arts. Thomas Kier and Rafael Kayanan of Sayoc Kali were brought in by Benicio del Toro.[3] They were credited as knife fight choreographers for the film.


Box office[edit]

The box office for the film was less than its reported production budget of $55 million.[4] The Hunted opened on March 14, 2003 at #3 in 2,516 theaters across North America and grossed $13.48 million during its opening weekend.[5] It went on to gross $34,244,097 in North America and $11,252,437 internationally markets for a worldwide total of $45,496,534.[4]

Critical response[edit]

The overall critical reaction to the movie was negative. It scored a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 146 reviews.[6] Many reviewers noted striking similarities to First Blood. Rolling Stone called it "Just a Rambo rehash,"[7] while Rex Reed of the New York Observer called it a "Ludicrous, plotless, ho-hum tale of lurid confrontation."[citation needed] The UK magazine, Total Film said the film was "scarcely exciting to watch."[8]

However, the film also received praise from other high profile critics, particularly for the fact it kept the special effects and stunts restrained. For example, Roger Ebert said, "We've seen so many fancy high-tech computer-assisted fight scenes in recent movies that we assume the fighters can fly. They live in a world of gravity-free speed-up. Not so with Friedkin's characters."[9] He reviewed the film on his own site and scored it 3 and 1/2 stars out of four.[9] Time Out London was also positive saying, "Friedkin's lean, mean thriller shows itself more interested in process than context, subtlety and character development pared away in favour of headlong momentum and crunching set pieces."[10]


  1. ^ The Hunted (2003). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2014-05-22.
  2. ^ "EXTRAS". The Oregonian. 2003-03-17. pp. C02. 
  3. ^ The Hunted. Sayoc Combat Choreography (2003-08-12). Retrieved on 2014-05-22.
  4. ^ a b The Hunted at Box Office Mojo
  5. ^ Daily Box Office for The Hunted from Box Office Mojo
  6. ^ "The Hunted". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 
  7. ^ "The Hunted : Review". Rolling Stone. [dead link]
  8. ^ Total Film - The Hunted
  9. ^ a b "The Hunted". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  10. ^ The Hunted Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London

External links[edit]