THE BOUNTY HUNTER is a tedious slog through tidy coincidences starting with the premise. A divorced couple meet again when she, a crack reporter on the trail of a bombshell story, jumps bail and he, the eponymous bounty hunter, is tasked with bringing her in. That’s about 15 minutes worth of good story line. Twenty in the right hands. These are not the right hands.
She is Nicole (Jennifer Anniston), a putatively smart reporter who decides that a hot tip is more important than a court date thereby becoming a fugitive. He is Milo (Gerard Butler), the ex-cop with a gambling problem who is more than delighted to take the case because the marriage did not end well. While Butler is rakish throughout, getting the most possible from thin and contradictory material, Anniston is never more than mildly pleasant, even when she’s supposed to be supremely ticked off or deeply troubled. It’s as though she is trying not to draw attention away from her carefully displayed cleavage and gams.
The plot has them trying to outsmart each other while she knowingly trails her informant and is unknowingly being stalked by a lovesick fellow reporter (Jason Sudeikis), and he is unknowingly being trailed by the very bad men to whom he owes money. They snipe, they snark, they try to convince the audience that there is a spark so that said audience will stay interested. It all plays out with a predictability that is painfully drawn out to include a stop at where they honeymooned on their wedding anniversary.
The writing is sloppy, labored, and random. Clues are manufactured with an irritating lack of imagination, and a subplot about a police scandal is trotted out merely to give our principals something about which to squabble. Individual situations fare less well, with an interlude at the race track involving Milo pulling a gun, stuffing Nicole into a car, and no one batting an eye, much less calling 911. Sure, it’s a race track, but still.
A screwball comedy, which may have been the goal of this flick, need not make sense, but it does have to be funny. Very funny. Milo tracking mud on his ex-wife’s carpet is not, and neither is Nicole cycling a pedicab down a highway as executed here with a lackluster sense of energy. Even the usually flawless Christine Baranksi as Nicole’s libidinous saloon singer of a mother is trying so hard that she fails to score sporting a hefty layer of sparkle eye shadow and clutching a cocktail with grim determination. THE BOUNTY HUNTER, far from amusing, is more of a tragedy in many senses and none of them worth further listing.