When Wrestlers Act: Hunt To Kill (2010)

Keoni Waxman

Steve Austin - Jim Rhodes
Marie Avgeropoulos - Kim Rhodes
Gil Bellows - Banks
Gary Daniels - Jensen
Michael Eklund - Geary
Eric Roberts - Lee Davis
Michael Hogan - Lawson
Adrian Holmes - Crab
Emilie Ullerup - Dominika

Genre - Action/Drama

Running Time - 97 Minutes

Jim Rhodes (Steve Austin) and Lee Davis (Eric Roberts) are border patrolmen who are on a stake out located by the Texas border. They spot a suspicious trailer nearby, entering it and finding an empty meth lab. However, both men are ambushed by a group of men in charge of the lab. Lee is shot during the attack and dies before the trailer explodes. Jim, however, survives but carries the guilt with him. Four years later, Jim is a ranger in the mountains of Montana. His rebellious teenage daughter, Kim (Marie Avgeropoulos), who he's having trouble connecting with.

Meanwhile, a group of bank robbers led by Banks (Gil Bellow) have pulled off a large heist. However, they lose their money when one of their members, Lawson (Michael Hogan), has ran off with the money for himself. Wanting his money, Banks leads the rest of the group towards the Montana mountains where Jim lives. They hold up the local police station, where Kim happens to be at the time. Jim walks in while this goes down, worried that his daughter will be hurt. Exchanging his services to lead them to the cash to keep Kim alive and safe, Jim reluctantly leads the bank robbers [who have taken Kim as a hostage] through the mountains, finding the money in the process. It's then when Jim fights Bank to save his daughter, but Jim gets shot and falls off of a cliff. Banks and his gang take Kim with them, believing Jim is dead. However, Jim has survived and is ready for war to save his daughter.


- The acting. HUNT TO KILL doesn't have many highlights going for it, to be honest with all of you. I'll get to why soon. But in terms of the acting, it's more of a positive than a negative. No one is going to win any awards for this film, but at least the actors do their best to keep the audience invested in this cliche, predictable action-drama.

WWE Hall of Famer "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is in the lead role and he does pretty well here as Jim Rhodes. The man is made to be an action star. He has the looks and physique for it. He definitely has the blue collar charisma that many people will be able to identify with. And he's very convincing whenever he has to perform action sequences. The dramatic stuff isn't as believable at times, which could be because of the script, but he isn't too bad at those either. I think I liked Austin more in THE CONDEMNED and in THE EXPENDABLES, but he does fine leading this film.

Gil Bellows is also a highlight as the villainous Banks. Best known for being on TV's Ally McBeal in the 90s, Bellows seems to be having a blast playing a bad guy here. He's so hammy and over-the-top that you have to laugh at his silly performance. Since the film itself isn't all that exciting, to be honest, Bellows comes out as one of the few and hilarious parts of HUNT TO KILL. With the dialogue he has to say, there's no surprise why Bellows seems to be on the verge of laughing throughout the film. I liked him here.

The rest of the cast is decent as well. Marie Avgeropoulos is pretty annoying as Kim, Jim's daughter. But I think the character was meant to be that way, so Avgeropoulos did a nice job. She also had a spunk and toughness about her that was cool. Gary Daniels plays the enforcer, Jensen, quite believably. He was hired due to Austin, who he became tight with on THE EXPENDABLES. Not the highlight of Daniels' career, but his presence is always welcome. Emilie Ullerup was good as Dominika, Banks' girlfriend. She was a convincing bitch, but also was good during the more dramatic and quieter moments with Avgeropoulos. And Eric Roberts [another cast member of THE EXPENDABLES] does well in his cameo as Jim's former partner. Everyone played their parts to the best of their abilities, so I can't really fault the cast.

- "When I hunt...I hunt to KILL!" This bit of dialogue occurs near the end of the film as Jim and Banks are at the end of their confrontation. The scene surrounding this line is so ridiculous and unintentionally hilarious that I can't help but love it. Austin's delivery of the one-liner is pitch perfect. Avgeropoulos says something like, "Kill that bastard!" during this scene, which made me laugh. And how Jim takes down Banks with his four-wheeler is just icing on the cake. Cinema snobs would hate this climax, but I found it more entertaining than probably intended.

- Austin/Daniels fight. The action in HUNT TO KILL is more than decent, but nothing we haven't seen before. But at least the Steve Austin and Gary Daniels fight is pretty bad ass. It's very physical and choreographed extremely well. Just two men beating the crap out of each other, which is always welcome in any action film. It's the only scene in the film that didn't feel totally staged and the quick editing during it enhanced it a bit, even though I don't think it was needed. This is what I want to see Austin doing in his action films - just kicking ass and taking names like he did in the wrestling ring. Why is that so hard?

- The direction. Keoni Waxman directs a competent, yet bland film here. It's pretty much a point-and-shoot affair with the usual shaky cam at times to enhance the action somewhat. The cinematography is pretty nice though and the editing is alright as well. But most of the time, HUNT TO KILL is just visualizing people walking through the mountains and not much else until the final act. Normally, I wouldn't have much of an issue with this type of generic direction. But since the script is pretty bad, this is where the film had to compensate. And since the visuals don't make the script seem better in any way really, I have to say that the direction here is a negative.

- The bland, cliche story. Here's where HUNT TO KILL fails. For one, it has no idea what story it wants to tell. Does it want to be an action film? Does it want to be a family drama about a father trying to reconnect with his daughter through a terrible situation? Or does it want to pay homage to FIRST BLOOD by having Jim Rhodes play Rambo throughout the entire final act of the film? I'm sure a film could be all of these things and more if a really talented screenwriter knew how to balance it all. But HUNT TO KILL isn't that film and it ends up feeling uneven and disjointed. The final act, which is honestly the best part of the film besides the opening with Eric Roberts, comes across as silly due to the first two acts taking themselves too seriously. When you have somewhat realistic moments for an hour followed by Jim Rhodes playing stealthy ninja who pops out of bushes and trees for the last half hour, it's hard to take it in.

It also doesn't help that none of the characters are really developed. The villains, in particular, bring nothing new to the action genre. They have no depth and are completely stereotypical. You have the wannabe bad-ass, over-the-top leader who loves one-liners and puns. You have his bitchy girlfriend. You have the computer expert who would rather be inside than out in the woods. You have the token black guy. And you have the muscle head enforcer. That's as much depth you'll get out of these characters, even though there are hints of something more that aren't close to being explored. But they end up being nothing more than cliches.

Kim is also the stereotypical teenager who wants to rebel against her father because she hates the country and would rather be in the city. She shoplifts to get attention. She talks back to her father, even when he's trying to save her from being killed. But at the same time, she loves her father and hopes he saves her. She's pretty annoying, but aren't most teenage girls? The issue is that we don't know much about her past to really care about her. If we knew why she behaves the way she does besides that it's expected, she might come across more likeable. But she's just a brat.

Jim has the most character development in the narrative by default, since he's in pretty much every scene. He tries to be a good father. He's heroic and tough. He adapts quite well to his environment. And he's also pretty smart. I wish they had him grieve a bit more for his late border patrol partner so we can understand why we moved into the mountains quickly afterwards, but the film wasn't really focused on that. It also doesn't focus on how he acquired ninja skills to surprise his opponents, but these writers don't care about those kind of explanations. There are a lot of things we don't know about Jim. But compared to everyone else in the film, he's the easiest to connect with.

To be quite honest, the biggest narrative flaw in HUNT TO KILL is its reason to even exist. Seriously, the story that takes place logically would never happen. Why? Because one of the villains is a computer expert to, supposedly, the nth degree. Why would Banks need a tour guide for their mountain trek to retrieve their money when this "genius" could have used his computer skills to create some sort of GPS system or even print out a map that the group could follow? This guy can hack into tough computer systems. He can change his voice to mimic other people through the computer. You're telling me he couldn't Mapquest where they needed to go? Why would you go to a police station to get a guide, especially when you're wanted criminals? These idiots have the resources but didn't bother to use them! Why make things so complicated? Why make it worse? It doesn't help that Kim and then Jim just happened to stumble upon these villains. If these guys can pull off a bank heist due to the "brains" of their operation, how come said "brains" couldn't tell them where the money was and how to get there? It makes no sense and really bugged me the entire film.

HUNT TO KILL isn't the worst action film I've ever seen, but it's not one I would really recommend to anyone. It wants to be other films - better films - but ends up feeling cliche, predictable, and not all that exciting [unless you count people walking through the mountains for 35 straight minutes fun]. It does have its moments and the acting kept me from turning the film off, but HUNT TO KILL didn't come close to fulfilling its potential. Steve Austin could be a great action star, like he was a great wrestling superstar. He just needs to continue pursuing the right material to make that happen. HUNT TO KILL isn't it, but if you're a fan, there may be slight interest to check it out. Otherwise, there's nothing worth hunting for here.

1.5 Howls Outta 4


  1. Wow, dude! You're getting heaps of reviews up this month! It sure is tough work-I've been getting heaps up too, and I was spent by the seventh of may. By the end of the month, Im planning to have five more reviews posted! haha!

    As for Hunt to Kill, it sounds partially interesting, but I'll probably skip it and watch a better action film.

    1. Yeah, it's a lot of writing and research. But doing the HIT and MISS format has really accelerated the reviewing process. While they're still long, they're more to the point. Most of my reviews will be like that from now on, although there will be special reviews that are longer. I've been backed up with reviews, which is why I'm trying to get a lot of them out now.

      And you're probably better off skipping it. If you're a Steve Austin fan, though, it might be worth checking out.

  2. I tend to have a good time with movies starring wrestlers - I'll watch this at some point. Nice review, Fred!

    1. I like movies with wrestlers too. That's why they have their own section. :) Thanks!

  3. Nice write-up! Still haven't watched this yet, but will eventually just for the Stone Cold-Gary Daniels fight.


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