The Hunter was Steve McQueen’s last film. He had quite the career before having gotten millions for The Towering Inferno, and enjoying box office success with that film, many others including The Getaway (Probably my favorite McQueen flick), Bullitt, and of course The Blob.
McQueen closed out his acting career with The Hunter, which was a top notch effort on his part. He was the epitome of cool, and in this film he showed that he was not afraid to poke fun at his own image. His character based on real life bounty hunter Ralph “Papa” Thorson is a terrible driver. That’s something McQueen excelled at in real life. He also gets thrown around a lot, and may have been one of the first action stars to do the “I’m getting to old for this shit” without actually mentioning it.
The movie itself is little more than chase sequences as Thorson chases down bail jumpers. The chases are strange and great at the same time. His first is a nice kid played by LeVar Burton, but the ones after that become increasingly violent and bizarre. His next is a man mountain that treats Thorson like a rag doll, and the scene plays out like a precursor to the Russian/Punisher fight in The Punisher, and the next one involves some hillbillies, driving Thorson’s rental Trans AM while tossing dynamite at him and driving through a cornfield while Thorson pursues them in a combine! The last chase involves the most dangerous of the bail jumpers played by stuntman/actor Tommy Rosales, and involves some truly remarkable stunts. It also showcases how truly terrible Thorson is at driving.
The acting pedigree in the film is pretty high. Eli Wallach is Thorson’s boss, Ben Johnson plays the Uncle of the man mountain, the already mentioned LeVar Burton, and Tracy Walter appears as a Travis Bickle-esque insane ex-con who has it out for Thorson. His scenes, although few, never fail to be anything less than disturbing.
The movie is certainly worth a rental, and I purchased my copy at Big Lots for $3 since now they’ve gotten an abundance of Paramount titles. I had only previously seen parts of the film, but I knew even then that I liked it It’s an underrated film that deserves at least a rental, so you can observe Steve McQueen’s final film.
Rene’s song of the day: “Friends” by Ennio Morricone
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