Ah yes, it’s that time of the Australian film scheduling year again: the period following the awards season glut of great films and just before the Easter school holiday barrage of kids flicks; it’s the time of the horror film! Well, er, not exactly, but for anyone who has seen Bounty Hunter, The you could perhaps forgive my mistake – a romantic comedy featuring two of the least successful romcom stars in the history of the genre, and a plot so derivative it wouldn’t surprise a newborn baby. Oh, the horror!
Whatever happened to the great romcoms of my youth? Films that allowed two characters to meet on equal terms and fall in love, with neither so objectionable that their audience would wish them physical harm, and no utterly ridiculous plot devices they must endure on their journey.
Jennifer Aniston is Nicole Hurley, a newspaper reporter on the trail of a story of police corruption and murder, who just might be in danger of becoming the next victim. Her ex-husband Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler) is a former cop turned bounty hunter, and when Nicole misses a court-date after a traffic accident, he is given the job of a lifetime: find and return her to justice, and he will receive $5000. Could anything be simpler?
Bounty Hunter, The really is a disposable film, with little imagination or creativity on display – a by-the-numbers modern romcom with characters that are hard to warm up to and a ridiculous plot that asks them to behave in ways that no real person would even consider. ‘Twists’ are meant to keep the audience wondering whether the two leads will get their act together and fall back in love, but aren’t actually ‘twisty’ at all. All of which wouldn’t be so devastating to the film’s chance of succeeding were Aniston and Butler to share the slightest hint of chemistry.
Really, if one encountered these characters on the street, the chance of mistaking them for people romantically involved is close to nil. There is no spark, no sign of attraction, and when the foundation of the film rests on its lead characters being believably in love, the failure of the two actors to generate that illusion sounds a death knell. Blame must be apportioned to both leads, although there is no doubting the natural charm Butler displays, which was a notable feature of one of last year’s worst films, The Ugly Truth. Aniston was apparently given the simple brief to ‘look skinny’ and ‘talk loudly… be annoying’, and if so, she has nailed it.
Being a Hollywood production, the film obviously looks good, with no glaring shortcuts taken in production. Popular music is used to emphasise the point of some scenes, however the soundtrack is frequently too loud and intrusive to be enjoyed. That said, Jam-Master Jay would surely turn in his grave were he to become aware this film features ‘It’s Tricky’!
Describing The Bounty Hunter as forgettable may be too generous, with little to recommend it other than eye candy. Wait for dvd.