“The Bounty Hunter” is another example of how two famous actors costarring in a movie (Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, in this case) doesn’t always ensure a big success. Despite Aniston’s reliable charm, she and Butler fail to show any real chemistry.
The film begins with Nicole (Aniston), a news reporter and Milo (Butler), a former cop turned bounty hunter, as a divorced couple who find themselves unexpectedly reunited when Milo is assigned to bring Nicole to jail. While scooping a murder cover-up, she fails to show up to traffic court. The relational tension quickly mounts in their initial exchange. He handcuffs her and throws her into his car, but then she doesn’t really seem too upset.
To keep things rolling, Nicole and Milo have to elude a handful of thugs and solve her murder case before they can realize that they’re meant to irritate each other as a married couple again. Furthering the audience’s disappointment, the violence from some of the characters is a little disconcerting and adds a bitter cynicism to the comedy.
While their initial interactions are funny at points, both actors never really get close to exploring the complex and deep love/hate emotions that would presumably (and in this case hopefully) accompany such a situation. They just banter back and forth from a mutual and unshakable nonchalant annoyance that endures encounters with tasers, car crashes, kidnappings and shootouts.
Perhaps Aniston, who seems as though she could employ some kind of personal alliance to this role in light of her divorce with Brad Pitt in 2005, chose to play up the strong and guarded side of her character too much. Only a handful of moments- a smile she gives Milo and some nostalgic tears over seeing their honeymoon cabin- remind the audience that she actually cares for her ex.
Butler did the same thing. In his attempt to play up a defensive tough masculine front, hiding Milo’s presumed true love, he is a little too brutish with too few moments of affection. This creates nothing more than a fleeting suspicion that he may still care for his ex-wife. The two stars missed each other.
The question of their relationship’s future remains up in the air until the very end. It’s just that by that point, it’s hard to really care.
David Sargent may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Bounty Hunter”
Rating: 1/4 stars
Directed by: Andy Tennant
Starring: Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler