Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hunt to Kill

The Action Mutant…
says he can get more generic with the titles if you would like.

Hunt to Kill

review by Joe Burrows

Ah, the Direct-to-Video market. Where former pro wrestlers go to resurrect their careers like a phoenix rising from the Redbox. Hulk Hogan did it. Roddy Piper did it. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson skipped that and just went right into feature films. One more name to add to the list of the former two is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. After getting out of the pro wrestling game, Austin starred in the much maligned The Condemned. Of course, action films are pretty much exempt from much critical shelling and Austin went on to star in a series of solid, if unspectacular actioners. Aside from his role in The Expendables, all of these have been of the aforementioned DtV variety. Now, in your best Vince McMahon voice, get ready to read the review of the movie that is...HUNT TO KILL!

The Plot, as it was:
Austin plays Jim Rhodes (if you we-all), a former Border Patrol agent living in Montana after the death of his partner (ERIC ROBERTS!). Rhodes is a man of the land and the only things he has to deal with are the occasional bad weather and his rebellious daughter Kim (Marie Avergopoulos) shoplifting. He goes to spring the kid from the Sheriff's office only to run into a band of thieves led by the twisted Banks (Gil Bellows). They are in search of a rogue member (Michael Hogan) of their squad that strayed off with their money from a previous heist. Of course, they need someone that knows the land and...well, you all know where this is going. He and his daughter are held against their will in trying to track down the money but once things get hairier, the real question being posed is "Who is being hunted here?" Hunted...TO KILL! Ok, it's old now.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
If I had to put a comparison to it, Hunt to Kill is mostly akin to the average student in the classroom. They don't do anything relatively great but they won't disappoint either. They are pretty much adequate at what they do and so is this flick. Nothing from Kill is out to reset the wheel and therefore, it passes as a standard time killer. As expected, Austin works well as the vengeful, sullen hero who can be brash when needed to be. The guy has presence to spare and that carries him through to the next scene. The rest of the cast comprise the usual archetypes for the genre as far as a villain superteam is concerned (psycho boss, slutty arm candy, dashing Euro braggart, nerdy tech guy, etc.). Bellows stands out but not in a particularly great way. See, director Keoni Waxman helmed a mildly underrated action film called Countdown in 1996. The heavy in that film was played by Jason London (Dazed and Confused, The Rage: Carrie 2) and lets just say there was enough ham in that performance for a weeks worth of family dinners. Bellows pulls the same act here and when the script calls for him to act crazy, it doesn't quite come off as convincing, either. It's a slight distraction from what is a basic, by the numbers tome with a few decent fight scenes (the one with Austin & action stalwart Gary Daniels being the showcase), a last third that picks up steam and a bravura finale, if anything.

Body Count/Violence: 15. Although Austin doesn't hand out any "Stone Cold Stunners" (still waiting...), he hands out the brutality in marginal doses. Some gory CGI shooting, explosions, broken limbs, ATV mayhem, arrow shots, wooden branch impaling and general ass whoopery abound.

Sexuality/Nudity: None. Though I'm sure Under Armour got a good cut from this flick since Austin wears an UA shirt for the majority of his screen time.

Language/Dialogue: Pretty strong, with a good amount of F-word droppage and other obscenities.

How bad was it?:
The majority of critics place it on the "we've seen it before" shelf but some less discerning scribes liked it for what it was. Not surprisingly, a lot of them pretty much poo poo on Bellows' performance.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Filmed in the fall of 2009 in Canada, no grosses are available for this DtV release (available as of 11/9/10) by Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Film: **/*****
Entertainment value: ***/*****

Copyright 2011 The Action Mutant.

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