Friday, August 16, 2013

Worth Mentioning - When the Man Comes Around

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Cody watches others track and trek.


When a special ops soldier goes A.W.O.L. from his off-the-books assignment and starts killing and mutilating hunters in the forests of Washington state and Oregon, expert tracker/survivalist L.T. Bonham (played by Tommy Lee Jones and named after the drummer from Led Zeppelin) is called down from his cabin in the snowy Canadian wilderness to help the authorities follow the killer's trail.

From the moment Bonham exits a helicopter at an Oregon crime scene and pukes his guts out (he hates choppers and heights), it doesn't take him long to find where the killer has been hiding out in the forest... or to realize that the killer is Aaron Hallam (Benicio del Toro), a man Bonham himself trained in his days of working as a civilian contractor for the military, teaching tracking and survival skills and a knife-based, gut and artery-slashing fighting style called Sayoc Kali to new recruits.

As Bonham and the authorities desperately try to pursue and stop Hallam, he continues to rack up a bodycount while the question is brought up: is Hallam on this killing spree because he's gone insane, driven over the edge by his memories of a hellish firefight in Kosovo, or are his claims that the military turned on him and is out to kill him really true?

Directed by The Exorcist's William Friedkin, The Hunted is a dark, moody thriller with some great suspense and action sequences. Bonham's hunt for Hallam takes up the film's perfect 94 minute running time with very little downtime, stretching from the forests to city streets and back again. When these two highly capable individuals collide in one-on-one conflict, the choreography of their fights delivers some impressive brutality. Tommy Lee Jones is a finely aged badass in this movie.

The story, which is reminiscent of First Blood and harkens back to the original David Morrell text in which the Rambo character was a tormented killing machine who would take down anyone he came across, plays out against the backdrop of some stunning Oregon and Washington state locations, deftly brought to the screen by cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (who was also behind the camera on Jack Reacher and is the father of actresses Zooey and Emily).


After actor Ewan McGregor returned home from filming Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and completing his work as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels, he and his friend Charley Boorman (himself an actor and the son of Deliverance/Exorcist II: The Heretic director John Boorman) set out on something incredible; a 19,000 mile motorcycle trip that took them all the way around the world.

Their experience was filmed for this fantastic, ten episode travelogue documentary, from the painstaking preparation process through the entire life-changing, mind-blowing journey.

The amazing drive began in London, England and went across France, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Siberia before they hopped on a plane with their motorcycles, flew over to Alaska, then continued on across Canada and the northern United States, ending in New York City.

It's fascinating to watch McGregor and Boorman, an enjoyable pair to spend time with, take this trip which most, if not all, of its viewers are unlikely to ever attempt for themselves. We're given a good sense of what the scenery is like in nearly every country, and the riders make frequent stops to experience the culture and interact with the locals, from a machine gun toting musician in the Ukraine to a family in Mongolia that cooks up hundreds of animal testicles for supper, as well as visit children at Unicef facilities. At times things get unbelievably rough, as we watch them struggle to stay on their bikes on the nearly non-existent roads of Kazakhstan and Mongolia, as well as cross the raging rivers that break up Siberia's Road of Bones, a road which got its name from the fact that the bodies of many of the twenty million political prisoners who paved its way as part of their punishment were integrated into the road, since they couldn't be buried in the frozen ground.

There's vehicular accidents, border troubles, trying times, laughter and tears, uncomfortable moments, and lots of fun. The seven hours of programming fly by because the show is so addicting that it's hard to stop watching it, and when they get back around to London in the closing moments of episode 9 it feels like the end has come too soon... All you can do then is watch it all over again. (And rush to check out the other adventures McGregor and Boorman have gone on.)

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