Movie Review: Robbers are “Hunted” in this Brit thriller about class, privilege and “the most dangerous game”

As long as there are movies to be made, there’ll be fresh versions of the hoariest thriller plot of all, the one based on a short story with a pun in the title.

Man/human beings are “The Most Dangerous Game.”

“Hunted” was titled “Hounded” (better title) when it was released in the UK. It’s another story about the inbred and entitled rich hunting their fellow humans for sport, another variation of Richard Connell’s classic short story from 1924.

Like every adaptation, it has its unique twists and touches. But this Tommy Boulding tale is depressingly straightforward and generally lacks the urgency of people being chased to death and the menace of upper class twits on horseback dressed for the hunt and dressed to kill.

This time, it’s a gang of young London robbers who find themselves trapped, taunted and released by the family that owns the gigantic and ancient rural brick pile, The Redwick Estate.

Leader Leon (Nobuse Jnr), his getaway driver little brother Charlie — “That’s CHAZZ!” (Malachi Pullar-Latchman), lockpicker Vix (Hannah Traylen) and East European muscle Tod (Ross Coles) figure they’ll do — say it with me — “One Last Job” for their antique-shop owning fence.

But it goes “pear shaped” as they say in Jolly Olde, and they find themselves hogtied, driven into the middle of nowhere, and lectured by the Redwick matriarch (screen veteran Samantha Bond, who played Moneypenny when Pierce Brosnan was 007).

“This country,” she intones, “used to have a natural order…the rulers, and the ruled.”

These impudent breaking-and-entering commoners have upset that order. The four thieves are left on their own, with a lot of questions they need the answers to.

“Why did they let us go? Why did they wish us luck?”

On hearing the sound of a distant horn, the thunder of hooves and baying of hounds — “I thought they banned fox hunting.”

“They did.” Wait for it. Wait. Wait. “RUN!”

Interestingly, the class consciousness has always been a subtext of the “Game” story, although many films avoided that because the filmmakers/producers were afraid of pointing out how the robber baron rich would just as soon kill us as let The People exercise power.

Decades of “Well, there’s no sense letting them label us communists” thinking prevailed in Hollywood if not everywhere.

Here, it’s introduced and joked about but somewhat lost in the search for inventive ways to kill the hunted and clever twists that let the prey become the predators.

As I mentioned at the outset, there’s a serious lack of menace among the horseback riders. They have four servants working with them, so they may have access to guns, but only carry “ceremonial” knives with them. Damned if I couldn’t overcome an old man, an OAP-aged woman, a daft 50ish father or his skinny inbred punk son. Maybe not all at once, but one on one.

The hounds, tails a-wagging and whatnot, come off as big ol’boo-boos and not killers baying for blood.

Some of this is rectified for brief moments, but the overall feel is of a chase that has low stakes until we see our first victim killed.

Bond gives fair value as the most entitled of the entitled, a woman with lots of miles and plenty of resentment for her inferiors.

“”This country used to be ruled by lions. Now it’s led by LAMBS.”

The rest of the cast? Adequate to a one. That doesn’t quite go for the picture, which has a fine moment here and there, and begins and ends well enough.

It’s all the not-that-scared slow-walking-escape that kicks off and finishes off the middle acts that blow this “game” before it really gets started.

Rating: unrated, violence, profanity

Cast: Samantha Bond, Malachi Pullar-Latchman, Nobuse Jnr, Hannah Traylen, James Lance, Nick Moran, Ross Coles, Louis Walwyn and James Faulkner

Credits: Directed by Tommy Boulding, scripted by Ray Bogdanovich and Dean Lines. A Saban Films release.

Running time: 1:34

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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