Jennifer Aniston has spent the last 16 years basking in the glow of an adoring public the likes of which not even John Lennon knew in his lifetime. It stands to reason that eventually, these fans are going to expect something from her in return. If any other actress on the planet made the movies she’s made in the last five to seven years, they’d get a lifetime banishment to the Hallmark Channel. Aniston, on the other hand, continues to be weekly gossip mag fodder, despite having no real career to speak of. Yes, “Marley & Me” was a hit, but Owen Wilson and the dog did the heavy lifting in that one. In fact, Aniston has yet to carry a movie. Ever.
“The Bounty Hunter” doesn’t change that trend. The story is a poorly conceived comedic thriller – don’t let those trailers fool you; this is no light-hearted romp – that, frankly, no one could have saved. But that sums up Aniston’s career as well as anything: the only lead roles she gets are in movies that no one could save. Had the script been better, they would have offered the part to someone else.
Aniston is Nicole Hurley, a careerist news reporter who’s about to break open a huge case involving the so-called suicide of a cop. She’s so devoted to her job that she skips a bail hearing from an earlier arrest in order to follow up on a lead, and the man assigned to bring her in is her ex-husband Milo (Gerard Butler), a former cop-turned bounty hunter. Milo needs the cash he’ll earn for turning her in (gambling debt), but as he realizes that Nicky’s case has some merit, he has second thoughts about handing her over, knowing the case will go unsolved if she rots in jail.
The gossip mags would have you believe that Aniston and Butler are dating in real life, and they may be, for now; this would not be the first time that Aniston conveniently introduced a new beau just before her latest movie was about to be released, and if history is any indicator, Butler will be kicked to the curb in a few weeks. She did the same thing to Vince Vaughn after they made “The Break-Up,” and now he’s married. Between Vaughn and Brad Pitt, Aniston appears to be the Good Luck Chuck of actresses. You’re officially on notice, Mr. Butler.
As for her work here, she’s fine on her own – though she makes no bones about where her true talents lie, and cups them in her hands in case we’re unsure – but she has absolutely no chemistry with Butler, which is a big problem when you’re trying to convince the world that you’re dating your co-star in real life. Indeed, their chemistry is so bad that I wondered if they shot their scenes separately, and the FX guys fixed everything in post with green screens. And then there is the subplot involving Nicky’s lovestruck coworker Stewart (Jason Sudeikis), where the horrific is mined for comedy gold. Are you really asking us to laugh at a guy while he’s being unnecessarily tortured by a bunch of characters that ultimately do not matter when all is said and done?
There is the occasional amusing one-liner – I laughed out loud for the first time at the 100-minute mark – but the movie stringing all those one-liners together isn’t worth a damn, and it’s surprising to see actors of the caliber of Aniston and Butler agreeing to make it. Granted, Butler’s last movie “The Ugly Truth” wasn’t great either, but it’s a hell of a lot better than this. Who knows, maybe he took the role knowing that it would lead to a couple weeks of sex with one of the world’s most desirable women. And that’s fine, as long as he knows that it comes with a price.(1 / 5)