I just rewatched this cult classic (McQueen's last movie) with my wife, who had never seen it before. She liked it quite well (she's very picky about language and such things). I got curious to share RL details about Ralph Thorson with her and discovered the reviews on IMDb. Ebert's is trash. He was so full of himself. "Excuses for action"? Really? It was an ACTION film, ferpetesakes. His entire critique is contrived objection. He probably believed what he was writing. But lala land is from where was watching the movie, back in the day. I wonder if Ebert felt any remorse when McQueen died a few months later. Too late. One should be careful about what one says about people. Perhaps McQueen and Ebert didn't like each other.
I reviewed The Hunter on IMDb, to offset Ebert, even these many decades later, because print lives on, and on. Here's my review:
I've read the reviews by the critics. Morons, mostly. Too many movies. Too many film classes. Too many tropes, formulas, admired critics, admirers and critics of the critics: they can't watch a film and just enjoy it, they have to dissect it.
Okay, rant off.
McQueen is great in his last role. "Flat", well hardly. Flattened by his career and his exhaustion with life, more like. And he was dying in RL, so haggard looking in many ways. And Kathryn Harrold was excellent. Not "flat" as a character. None of the characters were "flat". This wasn't a story where you get to know anyone deeply. But they are worth knowing. The cop friend in particular is a deep back story of tragedy. The stuff we saw featuring him was well acted and well shot.
The reason why I think that this is almost a perfect movie is because it has appeal to both sexes. Harrold brings that in very well. She's convincingly cynical about marriage, but devoted to McQueen's rough- edged "Papa" Thorson the bounty hunter, the father of her child. Without Harrold there would be no rhyme or reason to Thorson's exploits. His boss (Eli Wallach) tells him, "Dotty is the best thing that has happened in your life" (words to that effect), and lectures him on not throwing her love away, etc. It was a great scene. The movie strings great scenes together start to finish, action and romance, humor and tragedy. It has everything. Including continuity. There is enough with the "battle" between Dotty and Thorson over their relationship (focused on the pregnancy), and the stalker, to give the "on the job" and time with friends scenes continuity and meaning. (Perhaps most critics just lack imagination and can't fill in the "blanks" with what the scenes imply?) And when held up to the RL tragedy of McQueen's fatal battle with his own imminent death, The Hunter infallibly becomes a cult classic.
That was a great swan song movie. Stick it, Ebert, et al., you lot who think that movies need intellectualizing to death….