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Review: The Bounty Hunter

The film is a stark example of misbegotten chemistry and its resultant pitfalls.

The Bounty Hunter
Photo: Columbia Pictures

A stark example of misbegotten chemistry and its resultant pitfalls, The Bounty Hunter combines Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston and promptly fizzes upon contact. To say that the two are no Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert is putting it mildly; rarely have supposedly charming stars seemed less natural or comfortable playing unlikely soulmates, in this case a slovenly bounty hunter named Milo (Butler) and the tough ex-wife reporter Nicole (Aniston) he’s tasked with finding and taking to jail. The pair receive little help from the contrived scenario of Andy Tennant’s film, which finds them bickering like bitter, petty children along a journey that comes to include dodging a bookie’s thugs, solving a murder-conspiracy, and, naturally, falling back in love.

These non-amorous subplots combine to form a surefire cure for insomnia, though Sarah Thorp’s dawdling script still can’t be wholly blamed for the inertia that plagues the central duo’s rapport. Milo and Nicole squabble and harrumph at each other’s foibles ad nauseam, yet despite their characters’ deliberate opposites-attract construction, the headliners simply look wrong together, his wild, roguish scruffiness too far removed from her immaculate stylishness and poise. Given Aniston’s cold, hard demeanor, when Nicole’s mom (Christine Baranski) describes her daughter by saying “On the outside, she may be a strong, independent woman, but on the inside, she’s just a girl waiting to be loved by her man,” the moment comes off as so much laughable wishful thinking. Said groan-worthy statement is also indicative of the proceedings’ regressive sexual politics, found otherwise in Milo’s “Me Tarzan, You Jane” manhandling of Nicole as well as his stereotypical macho belief—predicated on Nicole’s auto-related arrest—that “women are the worst drivers.”

All the while, pop songs burst forth to energize perfunctory transitional sequences and cartoony chases that are as unnecessary as Jason Sudeikis’s aggravating role as a doofus newsman smitten with Aniston. Everything ultimately culminates with lame gunplay, but the only real tension and anticipation found in Tennant’s dud comes from the repeated sight of Butler and Aniston driving while not wearing seatbelts, images which create anticipation for a literal wreck to match the figurative one that is Bounty Hunter’s entirety.

Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Jason Sudeikis, Christine Baranski, Cathy Moriarty Director: Andy Tennant Screenwriter: Sarah Thorp Distributor: Columbia Pictures Running Time: 110 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2010 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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