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The Hunter’s Prayer (Blu-ray Review)

Saban Films is one of the recent distributors that have attempted to provide a home for more moderately-budgeted films, but the problem with something like The Hunter’s Prayer is the lack of any awareness. Sure, years ago seeing Sam Worthington in a bland action film would have made for an easy mid-September/January release, but the film was barely featured in theaters in 2017. I can’t say it’s much of a shame, as the movie has little to offer, but it speaks to a weird issue where this by-the-numbers action flick was only able to go so far. Regardless, the film is now available on Blu-ray.

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Film:

Worthington stars as Lucas, an assassin involved in a convoluted scheme to kill a young woman, Ella (Odeya Rush). Ella’s parents were recently murdered, and Lucas was here to finish the job, but his conscience doesn’t allow him to do so. Instead, an alliance is formed, as the two are both pursued across Europe and in search of those responsible for so much murder and corruption.

This is a convoluted story that feels like there’s a seemingly knowing bit of cleverness on the part of the screenwriters to give the audience something that defies expectation. It fails in this regard, as Worthington’s screen presence never gives us too much to worry about as far as whose side he is supposed to be on. I’m not as hard on Worthington as I am on other random white male actors who were ushered into leading roles out of nowhere (he’s no Jai Courtney), but I can’t say this role does him too many favors either. He’s capable, but the inner-conflict he’s going through never actually registers.

Admittedly, my main interest in this film was in seeing what director Jonathan Mostow has been up to. Mostow directed the incredibly tense and well-constructed Breakdown, with Kurt Russell back in 1997, moved on to the decent WWII thriller U-571 in 2000 and made the underrated Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003. There was also the forgettable Bruce Willis sci-fi film Surrogates in 2009. This is Mostow’s first film since and I’ve wondered why it took so long. While not having helmed any modern classics, he’s also avoided making mega-bombs with incredibly low critical regard. For all I can see, Mostow has been a decent director afforded a few interesting opportunities.

Sadly, The Hunter’s Prayer has little in the way of interesting things to work with. The cast is all present, but no one stands out. A car chase early on looks slick enough, but that’s the last of the multiple actions scenes to have any real weight. And there’s the plot, which doesn’t offer much that hasn’t been seen before. Oren Moverman, a filmmaker with a few credits I enjoy, co-wrote this screenplay with Paul Leyden, adapted from the novel For the Dogs by Kevin Wignall, but there’s nothing here beyond standard boilerplate thriller material.

With little else to offer, The Hunter’s Prayer has some minor moments to engage the audience, but little to make it a watch that satisfied. Having Worthington, also once part of the Terminator franchise, along for the ride provides the film some potential, but it still feels like the actor has not found the filmmaker who can bring something out of him effectively.

 

Video:

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: This is a fine HD transfer for the film, as it presents this slickly made production about as good as it can, given the gritty look that is matched with lots of cool blues. There is detail to be found in some of the locations used, with a fine amount of clarity seen in shots of guns, cars and other elements.

Depth: Movement always feels smooth throughout, with no real sense of flatness.

Black Levels: There are a lot of scenes set at night, dusk or indoors and the black levels always register well enough. No sign of crush either.

Color Reproduction: Colors are minimal in use, but they pop when they arrive. Mainly in the form of individual clothing choices and flashes of backgrounds that show off certain production design choices. As mentioned, the color palette is relatively subdued thanks to the cool blues found here, but they work.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and detailed in medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: It’s a clean disc.

 

Audio:

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: There’s a solid lossless 5.1 surround track that does proper justice to the film. It hits all the right beats to provide the sense of action that runs through the movie. There’s a fine balance to the vocals, sound effects and score to play well with what the film is going for.

Low-Frequency Extension: There is enough action to provide the LFE channel with enough work with and satisfy those with a subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: A strong balance is found in moving the various audio elements between channels. There is nothing to be disappointed in, given the variety of things going on that have to be mixed for this film.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone is loud and clear.

 

Extras:

I was not too concerned with whether there’d be a bevy of extras available, but some further thoughts in a commentary by Mostow and Worthington (who’s been attached to the film for a while) would have been nice.

Features Include:

  • The Cost of Killing: Making The Hunter’s Prayer (HD, 11:08) – Standard EPK look at the film.
  • The World of the Hunter (HD, 4:26) – A look at the locations and sets used in the movie.
  • Creating the Driving Force (HD, 3:37) – Another look at the movie’s production.

 

Summary:

The Hunter’s Prayer is nothing that complicated. Action fans may get something out of the film in moments, but the whole thing is pretty familiar. The Blu-ray does fine as far as presentation, even if the extras leave things pretty simple in the few features there are. Worth a rental for those wanting more Worthington or curious about Mostow as a director.

Order Your Copy Here:

 

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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