The Hunted

dir. Friedkin

Opens Fri March 14

Various Theaters

If you're like me, you have only one question about the Portland-centric film, The Hunted: "How was Jeff Gianola?" Be patient I'll answer that soon enough.

The Hunted, starring dreamy Benicio del Toro, crotchedy Tommy Lee Jones, and KOIN 6 anchor Jeff Gianola, is yet another take on an old theme: Once a government creates a killer, how does one shut him off? Trained to be the ultimate special ops murder machine, Benicio sees a bit too much bloodshed while on a mission in Kosovo. Upon his return, he's awarded for his bravery yet ironically, is driven crackers by the endless and annoying screams of the dead.

When Benny goes AWOL, he becomes a marked man. After hacking up a couple of hitmen, Benny disappears, and the crotchedy Tommy Lee Jones (his former teacher) is sent to find him. Luckily for the ridiculously ineffective FBI, the 107-year-old Tommy Lee is imbued with super-human strength, making him the only one capable of catching Mr. Benny Bonkers. But how many people will have to die first??

It's almost impossible to describe how jaw-droppingly ridiculous this movie is--but therein lies the fun. One could start with the bloated stars of the film (not Jeff Gianola) whose koo-koo characters are a cross between Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner and Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Both express their advanced craziness in the most obvious ways: twitchy hands and the speaking patterns of a stroke victim (however, these affectations may have been necessary to make up for the lack of any real characterization in the thread-bare script).

Though The Hunted was directed by cinematic veteran William Friedkin (The Exorcist), the result is pure junior varsity, with tons of easy-to-spot gaffes and continuity mistakes (including stop 'n' start rainshowers, and different wardrobes from scene to scene). Possibly Friedkin noticed his film swirling down the toilet and that's why he spent his budget on the gallons of blood spilt as Benny slices and dices his way through Portland.

Basically this is a remake of Rambo, except here, you hate Rambo--as well as everyone else. Except of course Jeff Gianola! Truly, Jeff is the one bright shining star in this heaping pile of dung. In his feature film debut, the KOIN 6 reporter brings a complete and utter believability to his role as a KOIN 6 reporter. I hung on his every word, wriggling with glee every time a MAX train passed bearing his name. And even though the most ardent Portland booster should give The Hunted a pass, if you only see one film this year starring Jeff Gianola MAKE IT THIS ONE!