The Hunter
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139 of 143 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 13, 2001
This is an interesting and highly entertaining film of an actual modern day bounty hunter "Pappy" Thorson played by Steve McQueen in one of his best roles. McQueen gives an excellent performance of the aging bounty hunter that has outlived his usefulness and is out of place in the modern concrete world. One poignant scene has McQueen and Ben Johnson exchanging dialogue between two old lawmen. This was Steve McQueen's last film and you can detect a sense of better days long gone by. Yet he went out in the vein as the cool man of action that he was best associated. This was probably Buzz Kulik's finest directorial achievement as well. Kulik never seemed to live up to his potential, but this is his best effort. Kulik was able to get great performances from the actors and develop a camaraderie that can be felt on the screen. The cast also included Eli Wallach, Kathryn Harrold and LeVar Burton. Composer Michel Legrand who scored "The Thomas Crown Affair" was brought in to score this last film for McQueen. This film was a critical failure. I beg to differ. Knowing a little about the type of man Steve McQueen was this film demonstrates his great ability as an actor and a real human being. He knew the end was near and he wanted to go out the same door he came in.
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70 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2004
This was Steve McQueens' last film and is not generally held in high regard by critics and fans alike. However, it is an interesting mix of comedy and action with an array of memorable characters that the viewer will remember. McQueen plays Ralph "Papa" Thorson, a modern day bounty hunter that will employ practically any means to capture bail jumpers. ( The real Ralph Thorson has a cameo in the film as a bartender) Though McQueen was ill at the time of production,( he allegedly only found out of his terminal condition after checking into the hospital after filming was completed) he gives a multilayered performance which shows his high degree of skill as an actor. There are of course some excellent action sequences, but what is more interesting is the subtle/low key humour that McQueen employs to round out his character: he is shown to be a terrible driver in the movie, while in real life he was near professional level. Also his love of antiques shows his old school obsessions and distrust of the modern world. " Anything new is not good." he states rather ruefully. There is a sweet subplot where his girlfriend( Kathryn Harrold) is preparing to have their child which collides with the scary main plot where a former quarry turns the tables on McQueen and comes after him for revenge. Eli Wallach is very amusing in a supporting role as a bail bondsman, as Levar Burton is as a bail jumper who is befriended by McQueen and starts hanging around his house. Mixed in along the way are several other scenes which show the professionalism and determination of McQueens' character to carry out his job, but still remain an honest and decent man at the end of the day. One in particular is very disturbing where a cop friend of McQueens' gets into deep trouble and can only see a violent solution to his problem. In 1980, I was on a plane from New York to Chicago when Good Morning America showed a clip from this just released film. It was very interesting to me that when I observed the fellow passengers( practically all of them were businessmen in suits fiddling with reports and calculators) they were simply hypnotized by Steve McQueens' presense when with gun in hand, he confronts a would be escapee with grit and droll humuor. I kind of felt then that they were thinking: " Yeah, I wish I was doing something like that and was this guy." So in summary, " The Hunter" is a well made action film/character study which caps the great Steve McQueens' career. Audiences will also appreciate the subtle/sly comedy which is very deftly worked into the film. Thankyou Mr. McQueen. Your work will not be forgotten.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 1999
McQueen is fantastic as Papa Thorson - a bounty hunter devoted to his family, friends and work. This is Steve McQueen's last film before he died, and rates as one of his best in my opinion, along with The Sand Pebbles, Papillon and The Great Escape. The Chicago chase scene is awesome, and McQueen's acting as the unlikely hunter is very believable. They don't make action flicks like this anymore, with the lead as a real person, not just a macho gun toting hero. Recommended.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2003
The Hunter is a very exciting movie based on the exploits of real life bounty hunter Ralph "Papa" Thorson. The movie follows his efforts to bring the bad guys in at all costs. One of the best scenes in the movie involves Thorson chasing his man through the streets of Chicago, the subway, and then up one of the towering parking garages that border the Chicago River. Needless to say, the chase ends with a bang. As well, there is a subplot involving a man named Mason, a speed freak bent on getting revenge on Thorson, the man who brought him in. Also, Thorson's girlfriend is pregnant causing him that much more problems. The story is very enjoyable. Even though it deals with a possibly dark subject, bounty hunting, the movie has a comedic edge in several scenes as McQueen repeatedly chases different criminals down. Although this may not be the best movie McQueen made it is still well worth a watch.
Steve McQueen is at his best in this movie even though it is obvious he is struggling with lung cancer. You can tell he had fun with the role though as a man who refuses to let things go. As well, his character is a horrible driver constantly hitting parked cars, driving up on sidewalks, and even destroying a Trans Am. Considering the fact that McQueen was such a good driver makes this all that much more funny. The film also stars Eli Wallach, Kathryn Harold as his girlfriend Dotty, Lavar Burton as Tommy Prince, a teenager Papa takes in, and a small but enjoyable role for Ben Johnson as Sheriff Strong. The DVD contains the widescreen presentation of the movie as well as a theatrical trailer, both of which look very good. Fans of McQueen will love this movie! For an exciting movie with a good story, exciting action, and a great performance by Steve McQueen check out this movie!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2007
Steve McQueens final film is always so refreshing to watch. It is all so very real, Steve comes through very genuine in the Hunter. I think this role fit him best, after all Steve wanted very much just to be a regular American guy. Steve always worked very hard to make his films as real as possible. I do not enjoy modern action films as much because the toughguy is usually as much as a jerk! as the villians. Steve always seemed to bring a sense of fairness and good will to his characters. His good sense of character shows through in "The Hunter". Steve as Papa Thorsen always reminded me of my Uncle. This was the very first film I watched with my Dad in the theatre. I was nine years old. Through the years other films have faded from my memory. I will never forget "The Hunter" nor will I ever forget Steve Mcqueen, he was a class act.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A lot of film buffs out there might argue that Steve McQueen's last film was certainly not his finest. The story itself plays like an episode of some bad 80's cop television show. The supporting players, with the exception of Levar Burton, are underdeveloped. The direction seems somewhat muddled. But TRUE McQueen fans, such as myself, enjoy this movie for two, simple facts: Number One: His LAST screen appearance was portraying a bounty hunter, Ralph "Pappa" Thorson; his FIRST major breakthrough came from playing a bounty hunter, Josh Randall on the television series "Wanted: Dead or Alive" (1958-1961). And Number Two: Even though the film is not that good, there is still one undeniable fact: McQueen was, and still is, a STAR. You simply can't take your eyes off him.

This was endemic to McQueen's career; he was better than most of his projects. Although he appeared in 28 films, he only had a handful of "hits" in the mid 60's beginning with The Great Escape (1963), and ending with Bullitt (1968),(Love With The Proper Stranger, The Cincinnati Kid, Nevada Smith and The Thomas Crown Affair, were the others respectively). Even his lone Oscar nominated performance in "The Sand Pebbles" wasn't considered a "Hit". Yet he was always in demand. He was the first actor to command a million dollar paycheck because audiences just liked to watch HIM. I really can't explain this without lapsing into a McQueen biography, but very few actors come full circle and end their careers playing the same memorable charcters that started their careers, and all of the fans know exactly what I'm talking about.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Even though 1980 was unfortunately the year of Steve McQueen's tragic, untimely demise, the year should also be remembered in part for the release of his final two finished movies, 'Tom Horn' and 'The Hunter', as they are among his best films. It's, of course, truly unfortunate that McQueen died too early in his career ; he should have gone on to make legions of other films, but there's something so right and spot-on about his characterizations of Tom Horn and Ralph "Papa" Thorson here in 'The Hunter', that it's difficult to have imagined better, more fitting final performances for the late actor, who died after suffering a heart attack in a Juarez, Mexico hospital following surgery exactly 30 years ago today.

In what would be his final performance, Steve McQueen -- much the same as his previous role -- plays another character inspired by an actual, real-life historical figure: modern-day bounty hunter Ralph "Papa" Thorson. Thorson works as a bail-enforcement agent for a bail bonding agency headed by fellow screen legend Eli Wallach tracking down various fugitives across the country. Not nearly as simple as I make it sound here, it is a riveting story with not just plenty of action, but also extensive drama and character development as well. Not only is Thorson forced to contend with the dangers of his job but also with feelings of uneasiness and misplacement in the modern age, as well as his tumultuous relationship with his pregnant girlfriend, (Kathryn Harrold)

His exploits as a bounty hunter come back to haunt him as lately he has become the target of a revenge-bent psychopathic junkie (Tracey Walter) that he previously helped bring to justice.

There's a number of truly terrific action sequences, including a breathless elevated train chase in Chicago and even more than a few genuinely laugh-out-loud funny scenes which begin as early as the opening credits when Thorson is shown to be a very transportationally-challenged driver.

There's also an elegiac sense that Thorson is burned out and at the end of his career (which would be prophetic for McQueen in real life) in that he's tired and has had enough of the game. There's some thematic similarities to McQueen's own previous character of 'Tom Horn', as in both movies depict real-life historical figures, both sanctioned to use force, who made a living of tracking other men and also dealt with the ramifications of a changing society where their line of work is seen as outdated. 'The Hunter' never quite achieves the same poignancy as 'Tom Horn' before it, but Steve McQueen's amazing, fully-realized performance as Papa is more than enough to compensate. It's somewhat sad to watch as McQueen was obviously sick and weary in certain scenes, but kept going regardless ; a true testament to his acting skills. There are plenty of actors who can't convince you of who they're supposed to be when they're perfectly well ---- for McQueen to become as real in his role as he is here under the physical condition he was in at the time is nothing short of remarkable and outstanding. It's unfortunate that 'The Hunter' was Steve McQueen's final movie, but it was a fantastic note to go out on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2010
This was Steve McQueen's last film. It is not his best film. The critics were lukewarm, whether they liked it or hated it. He did not look his best. The story is okay, but no better. The supporting cast is very good, but somewhat wasted. But hey, he's Steve McQueen, the last of the last of the real movie stars -- Errol Flynn, Bogie, Clark Gable, John Wayne, Steve McQueen ... Tom Cruise? Okay, okay, I lost my head. Nevertheless, this film has all of the McQueenisms you want and always will love. If you are the slightest fan, you must see this movie. It represents the end of a career, the end of a life, and the end of an era! It's hard to believe he was only 50 when he died, like Errol Flynn. But like Flynn, he left behind a lot of joy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2008
Steve McQueen's The Hunter did not receive great criticism, but who cares!!!
It was McQueen's last film. It was all about him. It was all about him doing what he does best(acting real, tough, and yet vulnerable)
McQueen is one of the last old school action movie star who possessed such a qualities. Look at those modern action movie stars today, they have no character what so ever, and they are just superficial iron pumping bodybuilders who is not even athletic in actions.
McQueen was perfectly cast as real life bounty hunter, Ralph, papa, Thorson. It was the perfectly portrayed as what real tough guy used to be like. It is sad for America that they just don't make them like McQueen anymore,
I can only imagine/dream about how he would be developed as an actor if he didn't pass, and yet making The Hunter would be greatest thing for his last standing......
This move also features Old cowboys like Ben Johnson, Eli Wallach (co-star of The Magnificent Seven), beautiful Kathryn Harrold, and TV Roots, LeVar Burton. I really don't think McQueen could not ask anyone better than them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2013
I Grew up watching Steve McQueen movies so I am a little biases to say the least. In this movie they tried to undo the typical McQueen role by having him drive like its his first week on the road and infused some comic scenarios throughout the movie with mixed results. Thankfully they did not totally take away his tough guy presona by having him play the role of bounty hunter "Papa" Thorson in this movie. For me this role was just not great McQueen material. Its ok, but I would much rather watch him in The Great Escape, Bullitt, Tom Horn, The Getaway, Papillon and the like. The movie has its good moments and maybe with a different director and writimg this could have been better. If your like me any McQueen movie is worth the time with some better than others, but all are a must see for for this mid 50's to 1980 cool (I wanna be like him) tough guy movie actor. I liked seeing Eli Wallach (Ritchie), Ben Johnson (sheriff Strong), Kathryn Harrold (Dotty) (she is gorgeous), LeVar Burton (Tommy) and Tracy Walter and mad man (Mason) in this movie and again its good, but?
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