Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A slick, white-trash road movie with a complex plot that hangs off a journalist's interest in a murky crime, Bounty Hunter (dir Andy Tennant, 2010) brings to the fore the comedic talents of two seasoned actors. Gerard Butler plays Milo Boyd, a bounty hunter. (For fans outside the US, a bounty hunter is a person who tracks down people who have breached bail conditions and brings them in to the police.) His sidekick is ex-wife Nicole Hurley, played by Jennifer Aniston.

Hurley is a journalist investigating an alleged suicide. But she's in trouble with the law because she decided to go to meet a source instead of fronting up to a court appointment to answer for a traffic infringement. Boyd is asked to bring her in. Instead of this happening, the divorced couple embark on a frantic search for the person responsible for the apparent suicide.

And love is always in the air in a brittle way that reminds you of some of Shakespeare's comedies, the ones where pretty, haughty women trade acerbic banter with handsome, cocksure males out in some remote French forest.

To spice up the romance, the filmmakers included a goofy Lothario in the person of Stewart (Jason Sudeikis), whose pants are too daggy, whose sweater is too pink, and who looks utterly ridiculous in a high-end Mini Cooper. Stewart adores Nicole, who cannot abide his advances and routinely brushes him off as she tracks down the murderer.

The chase takes the two protagonists to a race track, a country club, an "adorable" bed-and-breakfast, a casino, a tattoo parlour, and finally to the police repository where the final drama plays out. In addition, Nicole's saucy mother is an Atlantic City torch-song belle who starts drinking, it seems, at 11am just after she has removed herself from her twisted bedsheets. The fact that the last scene takes place in a jail cell tells you how low the filmmakers have aimed this self-consciously "edgy" romantic comedy.

But it's not all bad - mainly due to the acting talents of the leads. For a laugh the film can be heartily recommended, but don't expect to be swept off your feet. To be a tad swayed away from the vertical is all that the discerning viewer can reasonably expect from this lightweight film.

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