Starring: Gerard Butler, Jennifer Aniston, Christine Baranski
Director: Andy Tennant
Writer(s): Sarah Thorp
Cinematography: Oliver Bokelberg
Original Score: George Fenton
Running Time: 106 Mins.
Starring Jennifer Aniston. Starring Gerard Butler. These words are enough to strike a feeling of trepidation into any film fan’s heart, though both are capable of good things they are hardly a mark of filmic quality, rather mediocrity at best so it won’t surprise you to learn I approached The Bounty Hunter, a film which, gasp, stars them both, with a strong sense of dread. This may well be why I actually rather enjoyed it, hardly an endorsement and not really being within the target audience, that would be women/Gerard Butler fans, there was a level of enjoyment to be found in this latest output from Andy Tennant, he behind Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama and Fools Gold…go figure!
So The Bounty Hunter is lazy, predictable, overlong and shallow as a puddle but it is most importantly quite enjoyable, Aniston seems to have found her stride in these kind of gentile rom-com’s lately, which is almost a shame as there is more talent there (The Good Girl was evidence of that), but when she is this damn good-looking and the camera lingers on her perfect figure and she displays that easy Friends charm, which guy is going to complain… Likewise I would imagine Butler’s abs on display won’t raise any issues from the female contingency. Thrust (often literally) together these two have chemistry to spare, which is the make or break of a rom-com, and bounce from one situation to the next with the requisite spark, bickering and falling (back) in love on the journey with just enough restraint to ensure that schmaltz doesn’t take over.
The plot is pure Midnight Run refitted for the formula of a love story rather than a buddy one, but the mis-matched buddy elements remain to enough of an extent that the film doesn’t fall into complete cliché, and despite my reservations leave enough to enjoy for the guys, even if the tacked on corrupt police/missing drugs aspect is the oldest plot in the action movie book. But in the end it is the stars that carry you through, Butler has a natural charm and is laddish enough to stand out from the rom-com leading man crowd, even, dare I say it, a bit closer to reality than all the Hugh Grant’s and Ashton Kutcher’s. As ever Aniston does her Friend’s turn, completely unconvincing as a journalist and unable to look anything other than Jennifer Aniston going through the motions, if you love her you’ll love The Bounty Hunter if you don’t, don’t expect to be endeared to her this time.
As ever the plot id stuffed with the requisite quirky support cast, slimy men, kooky mother, loyal best friend, everyone goes through the motions and if there is a plot strand too many don’t worry too much, it will be liberally dropped and either picked up again at the opportune moment (attempts to collect an out-standing debt from Butler) or discarded altogether (Jen’s other leery admirer), as is the will of Thorp’s script and Tennant pedestrian direction, but if you have seen Hitch, Fools Gold or Sweet Home Alabama you would already know what to expect…for better, or worse!
Far from awful, The Bounty Hunter passes the time in an enjoyable way thanks to two solid leads playing to their strengths, working well toegther and allowing forgiveness of the rest of the uniformly weak points.