The Bounty Hunter, much like actual bounty hunting I assume, is a messy affair that stretches the bounds of credibility and takes off in a hundred different directions. It gets you somewhere, but you might go screaming and kicking along the way. That’s because this is one of those romantic comedies both roundly derided by critics and garlanded with multiple Razzies.
Well, rotten tomatoes be damned because I liked this movie about as much as I was prepared to dislike it, which is to say a lot. I won’t be adding it to any “best of” list, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable romp that’s a welcome alternative to the sedate romantic movie night in. An energetic action-romance-comedy, it embraces all its genre tropes to the point of predictability yet still finds a creative spark in its execution.
Investigative journalist Nicole (Jennifer Aniston) and ex-cop turned bounty hunter Milo (Gerard Butler) are a divorced couple still at each other’s throats. He tries to bring her in after she skips a court appearance and bail is revoked. But when her instincts lead her to a possible murder at his former precinct, they have to figure how to work together rather than how to constantly unhandcuff themselves from bedposts. The relatively straightforward plot turns into a free-for-all, however, when at least a half dozen supporting characters parachute in and out as bondsmen, bookies, and snitches. Before long, it’s not just a story about the couple pursuing a possible murderer and crooked cop but also about evading gambling debts and delusional lovers.
At many points, the film just turns into a frantic chase, through a golf course, through a tattoo parlor, through a strip club. You’re not really sure who’s after who, and one crony is just as good as any other. But the chaos hums along thanks in large part to an unrelenting cast. They dive into the absurdities so whole heartedly that I couldn’t help but jump on for the ride.
Aniston and Butler make an explosive team and are appealing whether together or apart. Having betrayed my generation by never watching Friends, I finally understand Aniston’s star power. She’s a clever actress, asserting herself physically and emotionally as Nicole. Instead of walling off different sides of her character, she manages to be at everything at once, a dedicated journalist batting away obstacles and a lover cognizant of her own shortcomings. Butler also impresses by lifting a generic role into a character I could love and hate. It was satisfying to see Milo get tased in the neck after chucking Nicole in his trunk, but it was also easy to forgive him when he admitted his romantic feelings, albeit while ducking debt collectors who were using his ex-wife as collateral.
The supporting roles don’t go unappreciated either. Jason Sudeikis milks his scenes as Nicole’s obsessive coworker who takes it on himself to protect her from Milo. Christine Baranski and Cathy Moriarty both add dramatic flare as Nicole’s mother and a snarling bookie, respectively. Everyone gets their chance to add their own brand of eccentricity to the film, and the sum effort somehow works.
Prod: Neal H. Moritz
Dir: Andy Tennant
Writer: Sarah Thorp
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Jason Sudeikis, Jeff Garlin, Cathy Moriarty, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Peter Greene, Dorian Missick, Carol Kane, Adam LeFevre, Adam Rose, Christine Baranski
Time: 111 min
Country: United States