- Movie Rating -

The Hunter (1980)

| August 1, 1980

I sort of wish that Steve McQueen had ended things with Papillion.  The actor spent much of the 1970s in blockbusters that weren’t worth his time (The Towering Inferno) or in failed attempts to get his box office mojo back.  First was his maligned attempt to prove that he could act with Enemy of the People and then in the last year of his life came two films that failed to bring his legacy around.

First was Tom Horn, a well-intentioned western that cast him as the real-life rustler-buster, but sidelined the more interesting parts of his legacy such as riding with T.R.’s Rough Riders and securing the surrender of Geronimo.  Then came The Hunter, a half-track action picture in the vein of bullet that tried to give him a full-blooded character to play but forgot to make him a character.

The Hunter is a bad movie that feels like a limp television production.  It has McQueen as Ralph “Papa” Thorson a bounty hunter who is rough on criminals and soft on those who have strayed from the path.  The action scenes are actually quite entertaining – though one gets the idea that they were constructed with an eye of one-upping Bullit.  That would explain the scene in a cornfield where McQueen chases down a sports car with a tractor and a chase scene involving an elevated train that brings to mind The French Connection but not in an affectionate way.

It’s the character stuff that drags the movie down.  We don’t really care about this man’s domestic life, his relationship with pregnant Kathryn Harrold.  We didn’t come to see their romantic word play.  We didn’t come to see what a nice guy he is.  And we certainly aren’t on board for a scene in which he and Harrold engage in the Lamaze technique.  What movie am I watching!?

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized