Milo (Gerard Butler) and Nicole (Jennifer Aniston) sure are lucky. They’re ex-husband and wife, Milo now a bounty hunter paid to bring in Nicole for a failure to appear, but they are also being chased by bookies and some villains out to cover-up a suicide. That’s a lot to deal with, but it so happens during a chase, they come across the Cupid Cabin, their honeymoon spot.

Could their slowly rekindling relationship take a turn for the better here? Will it end in awkwardness and hilarity because the movie still needs that ending kiss?

Well, yeah. Duh.

Bounty Hunter does almost nothing right, a terribly contrived, stupid, idiotic, and entirely predictable mess that falls right in with every other modern romantic comedy. It contains one scene of seemingly realistic acting, credit going to Aniston’s facial expression as she learns Butler is about to arrest her at the race track.

It works because it is a groan-worthy moment, the sheer ridiculousness of it all right there on her face. Even she seems to know this is about to go on that path, and it’s pretty sad when the movie tosses in a potential twist ending in an attempt to fool the audience, acting like maybe it has something of value. But no, The Bounty Hunter doesn’t take any chances, so falling for it is more of a case of naivety than anything else.

If there were some level of comedic genius on display, some of this could be forgiven. However, the supposed laughs rely on a side character falling for Aniston and getting caught up in all of this. He serves no purpose in the plot, so sorry Stewart (Jason Sudeikis). More laughs are supposed to be generated because the fat guy is walking out of the sub shop with half-a-dozen subs. In other words, he eats a lot. Har har.

Maybe director Andy Tennant wanted more of an action movie, having been stuck with romantic comedies like this (Hitch, Fools Gold) too often. Bounty Hunter does have a shoot-out and a car chase, certainly flaming the romantic fire in the process. Like everything else, even this is lifeless, the only positive being that Gerard Butler gets to break free from these dreadful romantic moments and shoot stuff. At least that’s something he’s good at. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Movie]

Bounty Hunter was made as a demo disc inside a Best Buy. It has loads of color, it’s very bright, remarkably clean, plus it has tons of Jennifer Aniston cleavage and Gerard Butler in nothing but a towel. Who wouldn’t buy a HDTV based on that, especially on a set that has no calibration at all?

Unfortunately, for the enthusiast, this looks like one of “those” films, high on the saturation, and low on the detail. Bounty Hunter was shot on film, although you would never know it most of the time, again, perfect demo material for the general public. It does get noisy at times, the disc having real problems handling bright pinks, including the bathroom at 6:22, and the heart on the door at 1:15:35.

The lack of grain is immediately apparent, faces taking on an unnaturally smooth, slightly digital look. One of the first shots of Butler at 2:15 is distinctly waxy, and Aniston fares no better at 5:08. Faces are almost always soft, even out of focus at 36:11, although this may have more to do with the pathetic green screen effect. There is the possibility Aniston’s face appears this way on purpose. At the racetrack, around 24:09, her face is flat and muddy, while Butler’s is fair, while the wooden bleachers contain a notable texture. It does lead to the possibility this was intentional.

That still doesn’t explain everything else. Compression is rough in spots, odd for a Sony AVC encode. Watch the weeds/grass on the right side as the car flips at 57:41. They are indistinct and murky. The trees at 33:00 also lack definition, with a bit of a digital appearance. It’s odd too. Certain city shots, aerial establishing views especially, look spectacular. Atlantic City looks awesome at 21:34, but once on the ground, it’s all for naught.

After a conversation, shot mostly in close-up at 1:11:53 that finally allows for a smidgen of detail, the film ends on a sour note. Black levels dip considerably inside the car at 1:35:00, taking on a faded, flat quality not consistent with the rest of the movie. The dim lighting further dilutes the high fidelity detail, and it doesn’t leave you with much of an impression. Still, it does impress with the basics, the truly bold primaries always a sight, and the intense contrast giving the image some pop where the detail falters. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]

A DTS-HD mix is adequate for the source, the key scene being the shoot-out at 57:00, with plenty of directional gunfire to take into account. Bullets carry a level of distinct clarity, and are placed aggressively when they hit. Bass is lacking, cars smashing together without so much as a thud in the low-end. The same goes for the eventual flip, an SUV falling upside down onto the pavement and not a lick of bass can be heard.

The track does not do much else. The dialogue stays where it should, never leaving the center. Cars occasionally pass through the frame with a bit of directionality, and a club scene around 1:30:00 carries a bit of ambiance along with it. Everything remains consistent, and volume is appropriately mixed to keep everything clear. Fidelity is fine, any ADR or other tinkering in no way noticeable. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

A promotional making-of runs 17:42, followed by an 11-minute featurette focusing on the locations. A trailer is actually called a feature, Rules for Outwitting a Bounty Hunter. Sony’s MovieIQ and BD-Live support remain. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]

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