"The Bounty Hunter" misses the target

March 21, 2010, 10:07 p.m. | By Masha Lafen | 14 years, 4 months ago

Overcomplicated action plot muddles romance

"The Bounty Hunter" from director Andy Tennant ("Hitch") spends its time hunting for a solution to conflicts the genre evokes. A romantic comedy, action flick and crime drama can be a successful blend, but not in this ultimately disappointing kiss and chase film.

Gerard Butler plays a bounty hunter named Milo Boyd who must pick up his bail-jumping ex-wife, Nicole Hurley, and bring her back to jail. Nicole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston) is a successful reporter investigating a murder cover-up that involves kidnappers, drug dealers and possibly the police. Working to uncover her story, she becomes the target for vicious criminals as she also runs from her bounty hunting ex-husband. Boyd himself has accumulated a substantial gambling debt and is followed by bumbling Atlantic City casino loan sharks. As this complicated chase begins, Boyd and Hurley rekindle their romance and attempt to fight off their pursuers.

The plot of this film is disappointing. Advertised as a quirky take on a romantic comedy, the complicated web of villains is more akin to a mystery or spy thriller than anything else.

Earl Mahler (Peter Greene) is the dead-eyed tight-skinned villain who looks like he's come right out of mob central casting. A terrifying source of evil, his performance unbalances audience appreciation for the love story embedded in this crime film. The romantic and action-based portions of the film do not complement each other. Only one plotline can advance at once at the expense of the other. Many times, the scenes are too stressful for romantic humor to garner audience sympathy.

When the screenwriting does afford a few jokes, it pans out as dull and should have been replaced by a segment of Aniston and Butler racing in the car chase with the shiny black SUV. Comic relief is often assigned to Stewart (Jason Sudeikis), Nicole's obsessively smitten coworker whose. Sadly, his goofy prep style is as lame as any of the punch lines that he delivers.

However, Aniston and Butler are likeable, talented actors trapped in a movie where the complicated plot drains the chemistry from their onscreen relationship. Butler and Aniston play a recently divorced couple sick of each other after an intense but short honeymoon period. Their relationship has no depth, so it's hard to see why the couple fell in love or why they would ever get back together. The action-driven plot overclouds the solution to their problems.

What does brighten "The Bounty Hunter" is the soundtrack which somehow manages what the plot does not - to animate and unite this sputtering romantic crime drama. But overall, it's better to save your money for a more authentic action romance.

"The Bounty Hunter" (110 minutes) is rated PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive comments, language and some violence. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

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