”THE BOUNTY HUNTER” Review
When I first saw the preview trailers for both ”THE BOUNTY HUNTER” and ”COP OUT”, I had naturally assumed I would prefer this new action/romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my opinions of the two movie proved to be reversed.
To my knowledge, ”THE BOUNTY HUNTER” told the story of a New York journalist named Nicole Hurley, who jumped bailed and ignored a court summons over an altercation with a cop in order to pursue a promising story about a suicide that smelled suspiciously like a murder. Hot on the journalist’s trail is her ex-husband, a former cop-turned-bounty hunter named Milo Boyd. He had been given the assignment to find her and turn her over to the police. Once Milo found Nicole, the two were forced to contend with another former cop, who also happened to be a killer; and a pair of hired thugs who worked for a bookie to whom Milo owned money.
Judging from the plot’s outline, one might assume that it was not that complicated. I wish I could say that the movie was not complicated. After all, there were aspects of it that I enjoyed. For instance, I enjoyed the bed-and-breakfast scene where Nicole and Milo a moonlight dinner on the hotel’s terrace. Not only did it featured first-rate acting by Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, but also allowed their characters to reflect upon their error in getting a divorce. I also enjoyed the rather humorous scene in which the pair tracked down a golf caddy, who could provide information on the killer, to a country club. And Nicole and Milo’s encounter with the killer on the road back to New York City, was filled with both humor and good action. I must almost admit that director Andy Tennant did a solid job in pacing the film, despite the unnecessary plotlines in the script. One last thing . . . I enjoyed Oliver Bokelberg’s crisp and colorful photography of Manhattan, Atlantic City and other parts of New Jersey and New York State.
As for the plot . . . what in the hell happened? What led screenwriter Sarah Thorp to take a straightforward plot and screw it up? What problem did I have with the story’s plot? Its execution made no sense whatsoever. I had no problems with the idea of a bounty hunter searching his bail jumping ex-wife. However, I had a problem with how Thorp handled the entire story. In the movie, it took Milo a few hours to track down Nicole from her Manhattan apartment, to her singer/mother at an Atlantic City hotel and finally to a race track. But once Milo caught up with Nicole, it took them two days to return to Manhattan. Why? Because Thorp had side tracked the couple with some unnecessary adventures.
One, Nicole and Milo stopped at an Atlantic City casino-hotel to gamble at the craps table. Milo had made a deal with Nicole that if she served as his good luck charmed and enabled him to win at least $5,000 (the money he was receiving for her capture), he would let her go. He ended up winning $8,000, she walked away, he eventually lost the money with more gambling and they ended up spending the night together at the casino-hotel. Their second day on the road included a close encounter with the killer (unmemorably portrayed by Peter Greene), a side trip to a country club to interrogate the golf caddy and an unnecessary stop at the very bed-and-breakfast where they had spent their honeymoon. Meanwhile, the movie also focused upon a pair of hired thugs for a female bookie portrayed by Oscar nominee Cathy Moriarty, to whom Milo owned money due to his gambling habit. A good deal of mistaken identity ensued when the thugs picked up Nicole’s newspaper colleague, whom one of them had mistaken for Milo. Finally, the movie ended with a showdown with the killer and Milo’s ex-partner. The entire sequence was nothing more than a vague, yet convoluted mess that left me feeling dissatisfied.
Some critics have complained about a lack of screen chemistry between Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. I would have to disagree with that opinion . . . somewhat. I must admit that the two stars had failed to produce any sparks in their first scene together. Fortunately, Aniston and Butler managed to create some kind of chemistry, as the movie progressed. But they did not have the kind of chemistry that Butler had with Katherine Heigel in ”THE UGLY TRUTH” or Aniston had with Vince Vaughn in ”THE BREAK UP”. In fact, Butler’s role seemed like a remake of his Mike Chadway character in ”THE UGLY TRUTH”. Whereas his Chadway character had managed to perfectly contrast with Heigel’s prissy character in the 2009 comedy, his Milo Boyd character failed to do the same with Aniston’s more sardonic and extroverted personality in ”THE BOUNTY HUNTER”. But the pair still managed to create some chemistry.
Only a handful of the supporting cast actually impressed me. Dorian Missick did a solid job of portraying the ambiguity of Detective Bobby Singer, the police detective who was Milo’s ex-partner, the couple’s close friend and of whom they suspected of being corrupt. Christine Baranski was charming and funny as Nicole’s mother, a nightclub singer at an Atlantic City casino. Siobhan Fallon was equally funny as the wife of the bail bondsman that Milo works for. Christian Borle gave a hilarious performance as the country club golf caddy who reluctantly gave Milo and Nicole the information they needed on the killer. I would have included Jason Sudeikis’ hilarious portrayal of Nicole’s wacky colleague and former one-night stand, Stewart. But once he got caught up in the useless bookie storyline, he became a nuisance and I eventually lost interest in him.
In the end, I do not know if I could really recommend ”THE BOUNTY HUNTER”. A forgettable villain and numerous subplots that made the movie’s story convoluted prevented it from going anywhere. Pity. The movie could have been a first-rate comedy in the vein of 1988’s ”MIDNIGHT RUN”. Instead, it turned out to be a second-rate movie with too many flaws.