I think it's common knowledge that when taking a look at a film such as Hunt to Kill, staring "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, you have a real good idea of what you're getting into beforehand. Occasionally, the straight-to-DVD video pendulum swings in a direction that can be either better or worse than expected, but more often than not, the film is exactly what you'd expect of it. Which is totally fine, mind you. It's nice to have that low-level action comfort food to fall back on when you just want to sit back and watch something moderately fun and entertaining, while not feeling like you have to be completely dedicated to what's on screen.
Now, I don't really follow wrestling all that much, or at least I haven't in many many years, but I think WWE wrestlers are nothing short of a perfect fit for action films as most come equipped with much of what it takes to be B-level-to-A-list action stars. That thought culminated with becoming completely enamored with Steve Austin while watching the WWE reality completion show, Tough Enough, I knew I had to watch Hunt to Kill the second I saw it was available on Netflix instant.
Directed by Keoni Waxman, Hunt to Kill stars Austin as Jim Rhodes, a U.S. border patrol agent living with his asshole of a daughter, Kim (Marie Avgeropoulos), in the secluded mountains of Canada. I mean, "Montana." Things are going just dandy for Jim and Kim, that is, until Jim gets a phone call from the sheriff, informing him that he has to pick up Kim from the police station because she was caught shoplifting! Now, outside of Marb reds and fishing worms, what exactly is there to steal in the mountains of Montana? Leaves? Bear skin rugs? Mounted trophies?
Hunt to Kill, Sponsored by Under Armor
While all of this shoplifting nonsense is going down, a group of criminals pull off a major heist, only to have their own boss pull a fast one on them, taking off with all of the earnings. And guess where he heads to? That's right, the mountains of Montana. The gang, in a desperate search to find the stolen money they stole first, head to the police station where they plan to force the sheriff into helping them navigate the dangerous woods so they can find their boss and, in turn, their money. And let's just say, they aren't going to be friendly about it.
The mathematics here are simple…
Jim, making his way to pick up Kim at the jail + Criminals going to said jail to force the sheriff into helping them find their money - A now dead sheriff and a hostage situation involving Kim = Jim begrudgingly helping the gang navigate the woods, while keeping his daughter safe and eventually killing the fuck out of everyone.
As I said, simple.
Hunt to Kill is, as I had expected, an okay little action film. Action wise, it's a tad slow for much of the first hour, but it's never completely boring, and Austin, who is far from the ring, is certainly good enough to carry the film on his massive shoulders, despite a few awkward acting moments. And not that I expected it, but there is nothing all that original about the film, and when I say all that, I mean not at all. It's riddled with clichéd characters and moments that are found in 9,251 other cheap action movies, though, I tend to love that about all cheap action movies. Being able to predict certain moments is a part of their charm. You know the minute you see Gary Daniels in the role as one of the bad guys that there will be a brawl of massive proportions between both him and Austin. It's only a matter of much anticipated time.
Argh, but we were boys in The Expendables, weren't we?!
More often than not, in the final act of most any direct-to-DVD action film, there is this breaking point where the main protagonist/hero is given his shot to take control of the situation using his, or her, own brand of kick-ass justice. This is the heart of any action film such as Hunt to Kill, and thankfully, this is exactly where Hunt to Kill shows up best. Now, this isn't top notch action awesomeness that we're talking about here, but the last 25-minutes of Hunt to Kill is sprinkled with a handful of solid moments that are worthy of a few giggling cheers of joy.
On a technical level, the movie is competently shot for the most part, and the action is displayed well enough, specifically the fight scene between Austin and Daniels which contains a number of edits but still remains coherent and easy to follow. On the other hand, there's some post work that leaves much to be desired with these awkward fade-ins and fade-outs as well as a few fuzzy, slow-motion sepia tone flashbacks that are plugged in at certain moments throughout the film that give it a very cheap feel. In many ways, Hunt to Kill feels like the action equivalent of a Lifetime movie. Like, if Lifetime were to create their own action channel, Hunt to Kill would be one of their premier films. And I would watch the shit out of it every time I strolled by it on cable.
Oh, and this sly guy shows up for the first four minutes
I have one more thing that I have to yap about before wrapping up this review, and that would be, by far, my favorite moment in Hunt to Kill; my make or break, if you will. However, this is a major *SPOILER!!* for the film's ending. Not that spoilers in a film like this really matter, but I shall warn you regardless.
In the very last scene, after Jim thinks he's beaten the main/lame-o bad guy, Banks (who is played horribly by Gil Bellows, for the record), and reunites with his daughter, Banks suddenly shows up, still alive, and begins taunting Jim, claiming that he can never be killed. It's at this moment that Jim gets on a fucking FOUR-WHEELER!, revs the engine and sneers out this incredible line: "When I hunt…I HUNT TO KILL!," and pops a wheelie as he drives right into Banks, straight running down his ass!
It is fucking awesome.