x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

The Bounty Hunter: no reward

There are few redeeming features in Jennifer Aniston's latest comedy, which isn't funny, romantic or suspenseful.

Jennifer Aniston's hands are tied in her latest rom-com, which also stars Gerard Butler.
Jennifer Aniston's hands are tied in her latest rom-com, which also stars Gerard Butler.

Director: Andy Tennant Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Jason Sudeikis, Christine Baranski, Peter Greene There is no truth in movie trailers - only spoilers. That's worth bearing in mind if you happen to have caught a glimpse of Jennifer Aniston handcuffed, or Gerald Butler tasered in the neck, and thought to yourself: hey, that looks like a good time! The Bounty Hunter could have been, should have been, but desperately is not, fun.

The gimmick is juicy enough: Aniston is a tough, ambitious investigative reporter, Nicole. Butler is her ex-husband, Milo, a former cop who now works as a bounty hunter. When Nicole fails to show up at court to face a driving violation charge, Milo jumps at the chance to bring her in - and on what would have been their anniversary, too. If the scene is set for a screwball comedy in the grand tradition of His Girl Friday, or even an action comedy in the more down-to-earth mode of Romancing the Stone or Mr and Mrs Smith, Andy Tennant's movie soon starts to fall apart.

For a start, Aniston is like no investigative reporter this side of a Hollywood red carpet: she wears tight skirts and high heels, and apparently has free rein to roam from the news desk to investigate an apparent suicide more than a week after it happened. Well, why not? She's also impervious to scratches, bumps, car crashes and ponds. No matter what indignity the screenwriter Sarah Thorp throws her way, Aniston always looks fabulous.

Butler's bounty hunter is more credible, if you can put up with his faux American accent, and then we're still left pondering why the classy Nicole would ever marry such a crass boor. On this evidence, the high point of the star's chemistry comes when he picks her up and throws her into the boot of his convertible. The rest is mostly bickering. The convoluted plot involves a police corruption case, a professional killer (Peter Greene) trying to ensure Nicole doesn't dig any deeper, and two goons chasing Milo for his heavy gambling debts. There's also a dweeby colleague of Nicole's who believes they have a "thing" together, and Christine Baranski as her mum, Milo's biggest fan. Everyone chases everyone else for the best part of two hours, but the Fool's Gold director Tennant never generates any suspense or excitement, not least because there's no urgency to the proceedings.

At one point, Nicole persuades Milo to stop off in Atlantic City to shoot some craps - betting that if he wins, he'll set her free. That's a bust, of course, but what they're doing there in the first place is a mystery, as he's supposed to be taking her straight back to jail in New York. Later, they stop off in their old honeymoon hotel in a bid to lie low. It doesn't occur to them that they could secure federal protection with a single phone call.

Even the pop soundtrack seems to have been trowelled on in an attempt to cover up these egregious gaps in logic. A thriller that isn't thrilling, a comedy that isn't funny and barely romantic even in theory, The Bounty Hunter misfires across the board.