Things I Learned From Movie X: The Bounty Hunter
By Edwin Davies
August 5, 2010
Relationships can be difficult. They take time, effort and commitment, and sometimes they just don't work out. Sometimes they end acrimoniously. And sometimes, one of the pair will become a bounty hunter and will be hired to track down their ex in exchange for money. This highly commonplace occurrence forms the backdrop for The Bounty Hunter, as Miles (Gerard Butler) is sent to track down his ex-wife Nicole (Jennifer Aniston) after she misses a court date.
But this simple case of legalized kidnapping isn't as straightforward as you would think. Nicole's a journalist, and her investigation into a suicide that might be a murder (or something; I'd kind of lost interest by that point) has her in the crosshairs of some mob types. How could hilarity not ensue? Oh right, it's a comedy starring Gerard Butler. Anyway, here are some lessons in life and love that you can take away from watching The Bounty Hunter. Though you'd probably live a richer, fuller life if you didn't.
Man, Midnight Run is such a good film. You should all watch it tonight.
When The Bounty Hunter was first released, comparisons to Midnight Run were thrown around since, much like Martin Brest's film, it focuses on a bounty hunter and his target. And to be fair to the people who made the comparison, The Bounty Hunter is a lot like Midnight Run, if Midnight Run was an awful film starring two people with no chemistry, warmth or sense of comic timing. I always knew that Midnight Run was a good film - how could anyone not fall in love with a film that has Charles Grodin and Robert DeNiro swearing like sailors and bickering like an old married couple for 126 minutes? - but The Bounty Hunter really made me appreciate how much fun it is, in much the same way that listening to any album Paul MacCartney put out after the mid-'70s makes Revolver sound even better. The key difference between the two films isn't the vast difference in quality between the scripts, the lack of energy in the direction, or even the fact that there is no urgency to plot, but that it's much easier to imagine Charles Grodin and Robert DeNiro ever having sex than it is Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. Those guys had sexual tension to burn.
Tik Tok by Kedollarsignha is no less awful for being set to a gambling montage.*
I don't think I've come across a film with a more arbitrary soundtrack than The Bounty Hunter. There are lots of popular songs on the soundtrack, both old and new, but not a one of them is used in a way which either comments on what is happening, or even helps set a mood or build rhythm in the scenes. What does "Tricky" by Run-DMC have to do with Jennifer Aniston riding a bicycle rickshaw around Atlantic City? And why would you set even a short chase scene to that song? It's one of the least energetic rap songs ever recorded and it saps the life out of what is already a fairly turgid sequence. Watching the film did remind me of something that has always puzzled me, though. Admittedly, I might be taking the lyrics fairly literally, but is the song "Fire Burning" by Sean Kingston about a woman spontaneously combusting in a club? Because that sounds pretty horrific. I wonder if recording the song was some way for Mr. Kingston to work through the issues that arose from having witnessed that. I hope he can finally get to sleep at night, because I sure haven't been able to since I first heard that song. It's haunting.
*And no, I will not write her name the way that she spells it. $ is no substitute for an S.