The Bounty Hunter is yet another romantic-comedy from the director of Hitch (Andy Tennant), and concerns a divorced couple who are forced back together by chance, and become embroiled in a life threatening conspiracy that could not only end their lives, but make her career.
Jennifer Aniston (Marley and Me) stars as investigative reporter Nicole Hurley, who skips out on her bail hearing after potentially discovering some juicy information regarding the secret behind a recent suspicious suicide, but soon gets tracked down by her ex-husband Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler, Law Abiding Citizen); a gambling ex-cop turned bounty hunter who would love nothing more than to arrest, turn in, and humiliate, his ex-wife (especially as he’s been offered five grand for doing so).
Needless to say, Nicole is more than a little apprehensive when Milo suggests she goes with him; not only because it means potential jail time, and letting him get the satisfaction of seeing it happen, but because it means letting go of a story that could prove to be the biggest of her career, and expose a large criminal conspiracy; but after being chased down and thrown in the trunk of his car, she has little choice but to accept.
She still manages to talk him round, and weasel her way out of the handcuffs, and his custody, several times as the movie goes on (leading him to chase her down in repeatedly dull ways), but often ends up relying on his skills when the criminals she’s investigating manage to track them down, and try and kill them before Milo can bring her in; making the main story a sort of cat-and-mouse tale where you’re left wondering if Milo and Nicole do get away (because being a romantic-comedy there’s next to no chance of the pair winding up dead) will he turn her in, or let her go? And will the criminal fraternity finally have driven them back into each other’s loving arms, or pushed them even further apart?
The only problem is, nobody cares, because The Bounty Hunter tries to blend romantic-comedy with action, and a hint of mystery, and unanimously fails on all three fronts; with both Aniston and Butler (who have both previously proven themselves in the rom-com genre) failing to fulfil their roles with any degree of believability (often seeming forced and overacted), and clearly lacking any real chemistry, blink-and-you’ll-miss-them action sequences that are far from tense or exciting, and a plot that’s always uber predictable, and never in the slightest bit intriguing.
Both of the lead actors have shown comedy talent elsewhere (Aniston got her big-break in TV comedy Friends) but the jokes that run throughout The Bounty Hunter are tired and lifeless; feeling not only old and reused, but poorly executed and unfunny, and as the characters are unbelievable and poorly acted, they evoke no empathy, and ensure that no viewer is ever really bothered as to whether or not they end up together.
The Bounty Hunter was a great idea; as it could have potentially solved a lot of arguments between couples where the man wanted to watch Predators or Die-Hard, and the woman prefers the likes of Hitch or Two Weeks Notice; blending action and romance in a way that could have pleased both genders and led the way for a number of other genre-mixing movies. As it stands however, The Bounty Hunter was a filmic failure that’s similar to Did You Hear About The Morgans (but more tedious), isn’t funny, has no sense of action or style, and only succeeded from having a decent(ish) premise, two-big name actors in the rom-com genre (and Butler being well versed in action movies such as Gamer, 300, and RockNRolla), and a trailer that was unfortunately funnier than the movie itself.
The Bounty Hunter’s 1080p video transfer fares much better than the film itself; having a high level of detail and clarity that always showcases the material well (despite faces appearing unnaturally smooth; which coupled with Jennifer Aniston’s apparent surgery makes for less visibly emotion-filled performances, and suggest that a degree of noise reduction has been applied), and mix with some well reproduced colours, and acceptable black levels, to provide a pleasing enough image.
The colour palette itself has gone the route of most modern rom-coms, and appears very warm looking; to the point at which the fleshtones are clearly not natural, and look more like badly botched fake tans than they should; but as the detail and clarity are good, there’s no visible print errors on the transfer, and only one memorable instance of severe banding, it might not be Sony’s best transfer to date, but is more than good enough for the movie, and should be enough to satisfy anyone desperate enough to watch the film in it’s entirety.
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundmix provided on The Bounty Hunter Blu-ray is also a serviceable mix, with solid and clear dialogue that only contains a couple of instances where it gets too soft and drops out, and a great representation of several pop songs that prove to be very rich and clear, and are in fact the soundtrack’s strongest asset.
Unfortunately the level of ambience is well below what’s required of the action on-screen; as even when there’s some present it’s not enough, not realistic sounding, and therefore not fully immersive; and the action scenes themselves are a bit of a let-down; as they tend to choose volume over quality; never sounding perfectly clear, and not helping the track’s front heavy mix.
All in all a fairly average track that’s stable enough to make it an easy listen, but overly front heavy, lacking in several areas, and far from impressive; although it shouldn’t really disappoint anyone watching, as the sounds that are present have been reproduced to a very high standard, and are more than serviceable, and better than The Bounty Hunter really deserves.
As far as bonus materials go, The Bounty Hunter again comes up lacking, as it only contains two real features; a making of (which is fairly dull and simply features various members of the cast and crew saying how fantastic they think the film is, and discussing some of the movies stunt work), and a feature highlighting the movie’s road trip elements, and the process of shooting in multiple East Coast locations; as well as the option to connect to Sony’s BD-Live portal or view with MovieIQ, and trailers for The Ugly Truth, Did You Hear About The Morgans?, and Julie & Julia.
There’s also a feature that takes small segments from the film and presents them as a series of rules for outwitting a bounty hunter, but all in all these features are far from special, and come nowhere near the heights of other Sony releases (especially releases such as Michael Jackson’s: This Is it, or Breaking Bad’s first and second season box-sets), but as it’s unlikely that many viewers will be bothered enough by the film to want to find out much more about it, it would have been pointless to include much more, for those that are interested however, the features are a bit of a let-down to say the least.
The Bottom Line:
In short, The Bounty Hunter is a film with a decent premise but terrible realisation; as this action/romantic-comedy is short on romance, lacking in laughs, and features some extremely short, and rather limp, action sequences that mean just about everyone who was hoping to get something out of it will end up disappointed; as even the two high-profile lead actors (Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler) deliver lacklustre performances and fail to enhance the movie’s drab content.
On the plus side, both the picture and audio quality are above average, and fairly serviceable (despite having their own problems, and not quite living up to the standard of most Sony transfers), although the extras are less than stellar, and while the disc itself may be serviceable, that doesn’t distract from the fact that it contains a film which is ultimately very boring.
If The Bounty Hunter is a film that you’re desperate to see, then give it a rent, because odds are you won’t be watching it again; if on the other hand you prefer an edgier rom-com, watch the Ugly Truth, for a quirky and unusual rom-com try 500 Days of Summer, or for a better all round package, wait until August 6th and go to the cinema to watch Knight and Day.