The Hunted (2003 film)

The Hunted is a 2003 American action thriller film directed by William Friedkin and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio del Toro, and Connie Nielsen.

The Hunted
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Friedkin
Written by
  • David Griffiths
  • Peter Griffiths
  • Art Monterastelli
Produced by
CinematographyCaleb Deschanel
Edited byAugie Hess
Music byBrian Tyler
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • March 14, 2003 (2003-03-14)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$55 million
Box office$45.5 million[1]


U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Aaron Hallam, a former United States Delta Force operator, has spent much of his career performing covert assassinations and black operations for the government. He is awarded the Silver Star for service in the Kosovo War, but is left wracked by post-traumatic stress disorder from his actions and the atrocities he witnessed.

In the wilderness of Silver Falls State Park, Oregon, Hallam encounters two deer hunters equipped with expensive scoped rifles. Hallam tells them that, due to their use of guns and scopes, they are not "true hunters". The hunters pursue him, but are overwhelmed by Hallam's tactics and traps and killed.

L.T. Bonham, a former civilian instructor of military survival and combat training, lives secluded deep in the woods of British Columbia. He is approached to help apprehend Hallam, one of his former students. Bonham agrees and is asked to work with the FBI task force pursuing Hallam, led by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Abby Durrell. Bonham discovers Hallam's personal effects in a tree, but quickly encounters Hallam, and the two engage in hand-to-hand combat. As they fight, Hallam is struck by an FBI tranquilizer and taken into custody.

During his interrogation, Hallam is uncooperative and looks mainly to Bonham, who he regards as a father figure of sorts. The FBI, unsure of what to do, hand him to the custody of his fellow JSOC operators, who tell the FBI that Hallam cannot stand trial due to the classified operations he had participated in. While being transported, however, the operatives indicate that they intend to kill Hallam to ensure his silence. Hallam manages to kill all the operatives and escape.

Alerted to the incident, Bonham and the FBI search for Hallam. Bonham finds him at the house of his ex-girlfriend and her daughter, but he flees after Abby arrives to apprehend him. Pursued by the Portland Police Bureau, he kills a team of FBI agents in a sewer and attempts to board a streetcar to blend in, but when the police and the FBI block the bridge the streetcar is on, he dives off the bridge and flees upstream.

Resurfacing up the river, Hallam crafts a knife out of reclaimed metal, as Bonham taught him. Meanwhile, Bonham crafts his own knife out of stone and enters the wilderness alone in search of Hallam. However, Bonham is caught by one of Hallam's traps and is thrown down a waterfall.

Surviving, he meets Hallam at the bottom, and they engage in hand-to-hand combat. During the fight, the two sustain severe injuries, and Bonham's knife is broken, but Bonham manages to gain the upper hand and stab Hallam with his own knife, killing him as Abby and the FBI arrive.

Bonham returns to his home in British Columbia. Mostly recovered, he starts to burn the letters Hallam referenced earlier, in which Hallam expressed his concerns over the things he witnessed during his service as a government assassin.



The film was partially filmed in and around Portland, Oregon and Silver Falls State Park. Portland scenes were filmed in Oxbow Park, the South Park Blocks, and Tom McCall Waterfront Park.[2] The technical adviser for the film was Tom Brown Jr., an American outdoorsman and wilderness survival expert. The story is partially inspired by a real-life incident involving Brown, who was asked to track down a former pupil and Special Forces sergeant who had evaded capture by authorities. This story is told in Tom's book, Case Files Of The Tracker. Chapter 2 of this book,"My Frankenstein," describes Brown's tracking and fight with a former special operations veteran.

Fight choreographyEdit

The hand-to-hand combat and knife fighting in the film featured Filipino Martial Arts. Thomas Kier and Rafael Kayanan of Sayoc Kali were brought in by Benicio del Toro.[3] They were credited as knife fight choreographers for the film.


Box officeEdit

The box office for the film was less than its reported production budget of $55 million.[4] The Hunted opened on March 14, 2003 at #3 in 2,516 theaters across North America and grossed $13.48 million during its opening weekend.[5] It went on to gross $34,244,097 in North America and $11,252,437 internationally markets for a worldwide total of $45,496,534.[4]

Critical responseEdit

The overall critical reaction to the movie was negative. It scored a "Rotten" 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 148 reviews.[6]

Many reviewers noted striking similarities to First Blood, with which this film was unfavorably compared. Rolling Stone called it "Just a Rambo rehash."[7] While there was some praise for the cinematography and the action scenes, much criticism was directed at the thin plot and characterization, and the general implausibility. Rex Reed of the New York Observer called it a "Ludicrous, plotless, ho-hum tale of lurid confrontation."[citation needed] The UK magazine, Total Film said the film was "scarcely exciting to watch."[8]

However, the film also received praise from other high profile critics, particularly for the fact it kept the special effects and stunts restrained. For example, Roger Ebert said, "We've seen so many fancy high-tech computer-assisted fight scenes in recent movies that we assume the fighters can fly. They live in a world of gravity-free speed-up. Not so with Friedkin's characters."[9] He reviewed the film on his own site and scored it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.[9]Time Out London was also positive saying, "Friedkin's lean, mean thriller shows itself more interested in process than context, subtlety and character development pared away in favour of headlong momentum and crunching set pieces."[10]


  1. ^ The Hunted (2003). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2014-05-22.
  2. ^ "EXTRAS". The Oregonian. 2003-03-17. pp. C02.
  3. ^ The Hunted. Sayoc Combat Choreography (2003-08-12). Retrieved on 2014-05-22.
  4. ^ a b The Hunted at Box Office Mojo
  5. ^ Daily Box Office for The Hunted from Box Office Mojo
  6. ^ "The Hunted". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster.
  7. ^ "The Hunted : Review". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 20, 2007.
  8. ^ Total Film - The Hunted
  9. ^ a b "The Hunted". Chicago Sun-Times.
  10. ^ The Hunted Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London

11. Case Files of the Tracker, Tom Brown Jr., 2003, Berkley Publishing.

External linksEdit