I had heard of William Friedkin's latest film The Hunted and all the issues that came up when star Benicio Del Toro was injured. When the trailer came around I thought this would likely be a good DVD flick so best to skip on the big buck movie theater experience. I am glad I did for two reasons. One, the film isn't very good. Two, the DVD is so darn good that I was fully enveloped in the film having not seen it before. Paramount does great DVD and The Hunted is another example.
The Hunted begins showing L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones) living in snowy wilderness, retired away from the real world. Seems Bonham used to train soldiers to make their own knives and be lethal killers with any knife. Seems one of the guys he trained, Hallam (Del Toro) has gone rogue and mutilated a couple of supposed hunters. As he is one of Bonham's boys, Bonham decides to track him. He finds and they have a quick fight but Hallam is taken in. The FBI questions him and he starts mentioning some covert op stuff. Hallam is a Special Forces guy whose jobs are off the books. The government soon sweeps and takes Hallam away from the FBI. Hallam escapes though and Bonham and the FBI are after him again. Hallam makes mention of an assignment that went wrong and he states that the hunters are in fact sweepers out to get him. In a flashback we see an event at Kosovo that is quite harsh and it obviously affects Hallam's state of mind. He tells Bonham about it but Bonham doesn't seem to care that much. Hallam eventually fights Bonham again and then proceeds on a long chase sequence. Along the way Hallam takes out a bunch of people (which then throws you for a loop as you then must assume he is crazy, but what then is up with those hunters and the way they acted?) before he and Bonham go all out in vicious and really cool knife fight that basically ends the film.
Paramount brings to DVD The Hunted in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. True to form for Paramount, The Hunted looks fantastic on DVD. The transfer is very sharp and ripe with detail and depth. From small textures to wider shots, everything is nicely in focus and very visible. Black level and contrast settings are right where they should be. Colors are well saturated and rich with varying hues. The only negative I could even come up with was one or two print specks and a touch of grain in two shots. That's it.
Audio for The Hunted is present in the form of a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The track is an engaging, lively, and a quality mix from a sound design perspective. The Kosovo battle scene is a great scene with all channels active. Even smaller scenes feature creative design and good use of the surrounds. This is a real 5.1 track. Fidelity and range are also well above average. Distortion or raspy audio is never present; the track is crisp and clean. Even with so much going on, the dialogue never gets overshadowed.
A good set of supplemental material is included on this DVD release. Director William Friedkin provides an audio commentary. The director discusses the film from a filming and production standpoint and gives details on lots of pros and cons in terms of shooting, locations, the actors, and even research on getting it all done right and believable.
Other goodies include four making of featurettes. These range in the 5 to 10 minute range. Pursuing the Hunted has Friedkin discussing what got him interested in the film. Tow Brown, the technical expert for the film, provides some information as does actress Connie Nielsen. Filming the Hunted is a look at the director at work on location. Tracking the Hunted is all about the Tom Brown and his skill and what he had to teach the actors. Last is the Cutting Edge, which is a nice look at the film's kick but knife fight finale.
Other extras included were 6 deleted scenes, a trailer for The Hunted plus trailers for The Core, Timeline, and the Indiana Jones Trilogy DVD box set.
The Hunted isn't a great film but the DVD certainly is. Paramount continues to build on their reputation of great releases as the transfer on this disc is top notch all the way. The audio is also terrific and the supplements are interesting as well as being numerous. Certainly worth a rental but for those that like outstanding looking and sounding DVDs, then this is one to own regardless of the film itself.