Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Bounty Hunter

THE BOUNTY HUNTER (Andy Tennant, 2010)

Ex-husband and wife Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler) and Nicole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston) are reunited in THE BOUNTY HUNTER when she skips out on a court appearance and he's tasked with bringing her in. Nicole is an ambitious journalist whose career focus led to her break-up with Milo. Now that job fixation leads Nicole to digging into a story about a suspicious-looking suicide rather than showing up for her appointed case before a judge.

Since the divorce Milo has lost his job as a police detective and makes ends meet as a bounty hunter. Apprehending his former wife looks like a chance for some sweet revenge, but Nicole can be a wily target.

As a lousy mystery and lousier romantic comedy, THE BOUNTY HUNTER is two bad films in one. For a comedy of remarriage, Aniston and Butler have a distinct lack of chemistry. Their failed relationship is supposed to provide that extra zing to his pursuit of her, but little evidence exists that these two characters ever felt deeply for one another or even were more than passingly familiar. Based on their absent romantic history and tension, she might as well be some random bail-jumper for him to chase.

Butler again plays a sensitive soul hiding behind a malicious creep persona. His BOUNTY HUNTER role isn't quite as off-putting as his turn in THE UGLY TRUTH, but both parts have the diminishing effect of molding Butler into a smug, unappealing performer to watch. Aniston has rarely found film work that caters to her comedic strengths. In THE BOUNTY HUNTER she seems as disinterested as everyone else.

Director Andy Tennant possesses a decent track record for light entertainments, with EVER AFTER and HITCH among his filmography highlights. This candy-coated yet ill-tempered version of a procedural isn't suited to his romantic comedy chops. In a confounding choice, the film is built around the suicide Nicole is investigating. The crime and corruption mystery is as boilerplate as they come. It also receives excessive and misplaced attention for a film with the primary concern of convincing us these two squabbling lovebirds are destined for one another despite their protests.

Grade: D+

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