Lionsgate // 2005 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 27th, 2005
Changing the future of law enforcement.
Hey, it's another straight-to-DVD low budget action affair, but with a twist. Instead of gangsters or rogue cops or lone men fighting for justice, the protagonists in Fugitive Hunter are bail bondsmen-for-hire. Yeah, it doesn't sound as sexy as "unhinged loose cannon ex-MI6 agent," but it's different and surprisingly un-suckariffic.
Co-writer and star Wayne Wallace plays "Quick," a streetwise tough nut who's just trying to make some honest money to support his ex-wife and child. He runs a failing garage and is looking at financial ruin unless he finds alternate income sources fast.
Opportunity finds him, though, when a barroom brawl ends in a blitzkrieg snatch-and-grab by some fugitive recovery agents. Quick and his pal Keno (R.F. Rodriguez) investigate the mysterious incident, and connect with one of Quick's old family friends, who runs the Swift fugitive recovery agency.
These neo-law enforcement agents have badges and guns and are dispatched to capture fugitives from justice who skip bail. For a successful retrieval, the hunters receive a percentage of the bail. It's a risky business and just on the fringe of legality, but it's lucrative and Quick is intrigued. So he and Keno saddle up as bail bondsmen and start knocking down doors and putting their guns into people's faces.
What they didn't count on is for their new job to entangle them into a conspiracy involving one of their own. And soon Quick will have to call upon his cumulative Bad-ass Know-how to crack the mystery and save his family.
I'm sort of torn with this film. On one hand, I think it's pretty well-made. Director J. Alexander Jimenez knows what he's doing, and has a good eye. He's also able to squeeze every ounce of talent from his actors, who by and large do a nice job.
Plus, I dig the premise. There's supposed to some commentary on the Eighth amendment and how bounty hunting legislation changed, but that stuff just provided some current events grounding for the film (not that I had any remote clue there was recent bounty hunting legislation!). Anyway, the whole fugitive hunter gimmick is interesting, more importantly, different. As an added bonus, I learned a few new things about a profession I would never stand a chance in.
Quick is a likeable character, street-tough yes, but not the cookie-cutter punk who runs around like a dingleberry to act awesome. He's a decent guy, trying to do what's right, so it's easy to get behind him. Rodriguez's Kelo is a satisfactory sidekick. The film does have its villains, but they're the stock type and represent the least engaging character crop.
All that being said, on the flipside, for an action movie Fugitive Hunter just isn't that action-packed. Most of the time, it toes the line between boring and mildly interesting, frequently slipping into the region of the former.
Despite its unique subject matter, the actual story is far from gripping. There's a mystery to solve and a bad guy to confront at the end, even a scummy FBI agent who sticks his nose where it doesn't belong, but the sum total bears a mediocre result.
Since most of the film is devoted to Quick and his partner figuring out what's going on with one fugitive in particular, the flick has staked its fate on that storyline. Too bad, because it doesn't deliver. And for a movie titled Fugitive Hunter, I was hoping for, you know, more hunting of fugitives; but for a montage, there is very little fugitive-hunting action to be had.
So it's a mixed effort for me. Fugitive Hunter is a good-looking film with a potentially interesting premise and likeable characters, tainted by a plodding, uninteresting narrative and too little action.
The feature is presented in a 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen transfer. The picture looks decent (the film was shot digitally) and the 2.0 Dolby stereo is up to the task. Not bad, but not fantastic, either. Just trailers for extras.
Too slow for my tastes, but I certainly don't hate Fugitive Hunter. The pros and cons average each-other out to produce an average low-budget action picture. (By the way, the disc case features lots of explosions on the front and back; I don't know where they got that from as Fugitive Hunter is explosion-free.)
Guilty. Bail is set at -- hey, where are you going?!?
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R