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False Bounty

By Elvis D Silva
April 23, 2010 10:14 IST
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Certain actors become famous for the roles they play and then spend their whole lives trying to step out of the shadow of that one character that everybody associates them with.

Think Sean Connery as James Bond or Julia Roberts as the Cinderella hooker in Pretty Woman; Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones or Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter.

The leads in The Bounty Hunter are two actors who gained fame for very particular roles. Gerard Butler for his turn as Leonidas in 300 and Jennifer Aniston for her ten-year run as Rachel on the television series Friends.

Now both of these are fairly famous stars and as such should have no trouble getting work that is neither demeaning nor embarrassing. So it makes absolutely no sense to try and figure out why actors like them have to stoop low enough to appear in a movie like The Bounty Hunter.

Granted, on the surface, the idea of a bounty hunter having to cart his ex-wife to jail after she skipped bail sounds funny. But come on people, make a little effort here. People have to want to pay to watch this stuff

Right from the get go this movie plays like the impotent fantasy of divorced men the world over who cannot believe that 'she' got whatever she did in the divorce settlement.

There is zero chemistry between the two leads (even though the tabloids would have us believe that they were involved in a rollicking affair off screen) and nothing about the plot even suggests that much thought went into it. The fact that these two used to be married doesn't really add any tension to the actual storytelling. Their professions seem to have been tacked on as an afterthought just so that the plot contrivances that pepper this insipid tale can have some reason for existing.

And the characterisations? Please don't get me started.

Butler makes Milo Boyd look like a perpetually hung over screw up who deserves to be locked up himself. When he finally tangles with his ex-wife he comes off as the quintessential MCP, right from the way he manhandles her, to his obvious glee at any misfortune that should befall her. This is the type of character Shakti Kapoor might have played in his heyday, and he is certainly no leading man.

And Ms Aniston plays her Nicole Hurly as a bimbette in a tight skirt and high heels who is too tanned to be convincing as a reporter investigating a case nobody else even knows is a case.

Makes one despair for the decades gone by when feisty young men and women went on adventures and entertained the cinema-going audience with their barbs, jibes, fights and eventual romance. Almost all of those elements are missing from this movie.

Sure Ms Aniston looks good in her saucy attire and she is in fantastic shape but that is no reason to go watch this movie. A decent internet connection and the URLs to a half dozen celebrity blogs will more than suffice for one to get an eyeful of the woman who possibly still has the best hair in Hollywood.

The less said about Mr Butler and the rest of this sorry cinematic enterprise, the better. This is the type of cinema that is categorised as B-grade, if one is being charitable. With lesser stars it would have gone straight to DVD. I can't help thinking that even that is too good a fate for a movie like this.

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Elvis D Silva in Mumbai