Should I Watch..? The Bounty Hunter
What's the big deal?
The Bounty Hunter is an action romantic comedy film released in 2010 and was directed by Andy Tennant. The film stars Jennifer Aniston as a divorced journalist chasing a lead and Gerard Butler as her ex-husband now working as a bounty hunter who is in pursuit of her. The supporting cast includes Jason Sudeikis, Peter Greene, Jeff Garlin and Christine Baranski. Despite earning global box office receipts in excess of $136 million, the film was critically panned when it was released and it earned a total of four Razzie nominations, though it didn't win any. The film is notable for its chemistry between Aniston and Butler who were rumoured to be seeing each other during filming. It sure as hell isn't notable for anything else...
What's it about?
Milo Boyd is a former NYPD officer now working as a bounty hunter while his ex-wife Nicole Hurley is a journalist arrested and released for a minor charge. However, she skips her bail hearing whilst pursuing a lead about a recent suicide so the judge issues a warrant for her arrest. Milo is delighted at the prospect of throwing Nicole into jail and sets off in pursuit of her, catching up with her at a race track before apprehending her and driving off with Nicole in the boot of his car.
However, things get complicated quickly. Milo is pursued by two thugs employed by Milo's bookie who is trying to recoup Milo's debts while Nicole is sought by corrupt cop Earl Mahler who is connected to her dodgy suicide story. And both are followed by Nicole's love-struck co-worker Stewart who is determined to save her from reconciling with Milo. As the pair of them realise how much trouble they are both in, they find themselves increasingly drawn to each other - can they possibly work together to keep out of trouble or has the relationship soured too much?
Release Date (UK)
17th March, 2010
Action, Comedy, Romance
Worst Picture, Worst Actress (Aniston), Worst Actor (Butler), Worst On-Screen Couple (Aniston & Butler)
What's to like?
The only thing that stops this from being a complete bust - and I do mean, the only thing - is the unmistakable chemistry between Butler and Aniston as the bickering couple in this insipid battle-of-the-sexes flick. I do feel that the folks behind the Razzies were unduly harsh as these two do convince together, even if the script gives them the most ridiculous set of scenarios to navigate. For Aniston, who still hasn't quite managed to escape her character Rachel from Friends, rom-com fluff like this is her natural territory while Butler has also had some experience in this sort of arena, with admittedly mixed results.
The Bounty Hunter is yet another witless story with corny rom-com elements nailed into place. It has the foresight to imagine women dragging their hapless other-half so for the gents, it has the good grace to include some mildly exciting action scenes and usually has Aniston in the littlest little black dress you've ever seen. But that is it - anyone hoping for something other than two attractive lead actors will simply draw a blank with this.
- At one point, Nicole sarcastically calls Milo 'Kojak'. This is a reference to Telly Savalas who was Jennifer Aniston's godfather until his death in 1994.
- Director Tennant and producer Neal H. Moritz were neighbours at the time. One day, they were chatting over the fence and Moritz asked him what he was working on. When Tennant said that he hadn't anything in the pipeline, Moritz realised that he would be perfect directing this film.
- Former Fox TV news reporter Mike Sheehan cameos as a police desk sergeant. He was arrested in 2009 for hitting a mounted policeman with his car - the same charges Nicole faces in the movie. He also used to be a policeman.
What's not to like?
The film's entire premise is paper-thin and runs out of steam after about half an hour, throwing in some nonsense about corrupt cops and angry bookmakers while forcing our mismatched couple to undergo coincidence after torturous coincidence. And despite their good looks and genuine attraction to each other, both Aniston and Butler play rather unlikeable characters so we don't particularly care whether they get together or not. The film runs like a bad dream, introducing elements that were previously there and lacking in any sort of cohesion. Why are no other bounty hunters after her - might have been more interesting if Dog The Bounty Hunter turned up. Hell, even Boba Fett wouldn't have been that bad!
But the film's worst crime is that it barely makes an impression on you of any kind. Good movies will have you recommend them to others, great films ever more so and even bad movies will have you laughing and joking about them later. But The Bounty Hunter is an interest-free zone, whooshing past like a tree outside a train window and lasting about as long in your memory - recapping last night, I had completely forgotten that Sudeikis was in the film and was almost completely ignorant of the role he played! It isn't the worst movie you'll ever see but it might be one of the most vacuous.
Should I watch it?
Unless you enjoy looking at the likes of Aniston and Butler in whatever film they appear in, The Bounty Hunter is a wretched addition to an over-crowded genre already lumbering under the weight of equally dire pictures. It's an annoying waste of what might have been a decent Hollywood couple as both leads generate enough chemistry to shine through the material but by being a dumb and cliché-heavy formulaic comedy, the film has next to nothing to offer the average viewer. Avoid like a rack of ribs on a first date.
Great For: date nights, forgiving rom-com fans, gossip magazine readers
Not So Great For: second-date nights, intelligent adults, actual bounty hunters
What else should I watch?
Aniston's career has so far never quite eclipsed her ten-year stint on Friends, having been stuck in rom-com purgatory since the mid 1990's. Occasionally, she'll pop up in something a little different - Derailed sees her as the damsel-in-distress in a crime thriller while Marley And Me sees her and Owen Wilson own a far-too-cute dog and the various mishaps that ensues. Butler, at least, can always fall back onto action roles such as his appearances in Olympus Has Fallen, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life and Gamer whilst still dabbling in rom-com fluff. But it's probably 300 that he'll forever be associated with, destined to spend the rest of his career running from people shouting "THIS IS SPARTA!" at him.
The rom-com genre has become a by-word for mass-produced, forgettable nonsense like The Bounty Hunter but every now and again, a genuine diamond is found in the rough. Stick with the likes of Four Weddings And A Funeral, Pretty Woman, There's Something About Mary and Love Actually for an additional layer of Christmas glitz sprinkled on top.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox