Genre films are movie comfort food. You don’t watch them expecting huge surprises. But the good ones are satisfying in the ways they do so much of the work for you.
There have been scads of “kidnapped kid/person protected by an assassin” thrillers. Two of the best that come to mind are “The Professional,” with Jean Reno defending first-time-film-starlet Natalie Portman from Gary Oldman, and “Gloria” — the Gena Rowlands original, about a mob moll who protects a child whose family has been massacred by the mob. But there are “Terminators” and the like all through recent film history that use the same basic scenario.
“The Hunter’s Prayer” isn’t in that top drawer. But with action auteur Jonathan Mostow (“Breakdown”) behind the camera and Sam Worthington in front of it, it gives fair value — and then some — as it treads a well-worn path.
The set up — a rich lawyer with mob clients is murdered, along with his wife — in their Scarsdale mansion. But his daughter, Ella, is in boarding school in Switzerland. She’s safe, right?
Not with today’s multi-national mobsters, oh no. There’s just enough connecting her to missing money and the sins of her father that she’s kidnap, torture and murder bait.
Not that Ella, played by the exotic Odeya Rush (Mila Kunis: The Next Generation?) has a clue. She’s doing what rich girls have always done at Swiss boarding schools — using fake ID to date older men, sneaking into clubs.
Who’s this creepy guy that keeps turning up in the shadows on her date?
“My Dad — sometimes he hires people to look out for me.”
And when the guns start blazing, she’s grateful for that — she thinks. But this Lucas fellow isn’t who he seems. As he man-handles the kid across Europe, Ella starts to figure that out.
Allen Leech is a properly depraved “businessman” sending minions in pursuit of Ella. Martin Compston is the assassin that Lucas must outsmart. That is, of course, made more difficult by the cell-phone addicted teen. All these movies with kids who just “have” to make a phone call, giving away their location. And yet the kids still do it.
Mostow stages some savage shootouts and bull-in-a-china-shop brawls, and Worthington, a far cry from his latest turn in the faith-based fantasy “The Shack,” is deadly with gun or whatever other weapon might be at hand.
“I finish what I start,” he growls. Great growl, same poker face when dealing with the kid or assorted villains.
There are a few twists, betrayals, conflicted loyalties tested.
But again, you don’t go to thrillers like this to be shocked and surprised. Mostow and Worthington make a genre promise, and “The Hunter’s Prayer” keeps it.
MPAA Rating: R for violence, drug use and language
Cast: Sam Worthington, Odeya Rush
Running time: 1:30