Film Review: ‘The Hunter’s Prayer’

A routine but reasonably diverting B-movie about a conscience-stricken hit man and the girl he opts not to kill.

Jonathan Mostow
Sam Worthington, Odeya Rush, Allen Leech, Amy Landecker, Martin Compston, Veronica Echegui.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2674358/

Echoes of “Leon: The Professional” and the Jason Bourne franchise resound throughout “The Hunter’s Prayer,” a briskly paced and instantly forgettable cut-and-paste thriller about a conscience-stricken assassin who becomes the target of other killers when he refrains from terminating a 16-year-old girl on his hit list.

Sam Worthington is Lucas, a drug-addicted combat veteran who makes his living as a lethal weapon, and Odeya Rush is Ella, the innocent teen who’s been marked for death because her dad embezzled money from Richard Addison (Allen Leech), a criminally inclined business tycoon. It’s unfortunate that the co-stars generate zero chemistry together, since the plot — adapted by scripters John Brancato and Michael Ferris from Kevin Wignall’s novel — pivots on the development of a surrogate father/substitute daughter bond between the hit man and the hunted girl. But never mind: Director Jonathan Mostow (“Terminator 3”) provides enough hairbreadth escapes, extended shootouts, crash-and-dash auto chases, and hand-to-hand combat sequences to make the movie modestly diverting for undemanding audiences.

After her father and stepmom are killed (along with a maid and, no joke, the family dog) in New York, Ella is a sitting duck in Switzerland, where she’s attending boarding school. Fortunately, she’s taken out of the line of fire by Lucas, who appears to be over-compensating for never establishing contact with his own estranged daughter. As they zigzag across a sizable swath of Europe and Great Britain, constantly pursued by hired guns who can’t shoot accurately, Ella comes to appreciate Lucas’ unique skill set, if not his paternal gestures. Ultimately, she resolves to seek revenge by murdering Addison — with or without Lucas’ help.

Popular on Variety

As often is the case in trifles of this sort, the international supporting cast is littered with folks focused on making the absolute most of thinly written roles. The standouts here include Veronica Echegui, who strikes a punkish pose as a freelance medic for hit men on the run, and Amy Landecker, who snarls authoritatively as a corrupt FBI agent on Addison’s payroll. As Addison, Leech is pretty much your standard-issue Eurotrash slimeball. He repeatedly insists that he wants Ella killed to make some sort of statement to potential betrayers. Before she dies, however, he wants her to reveal where her dad hid the money he stole from him. This obviously is a matter of great urgency for Addison: The guy is so cash-strapped, he can’t afford more than three security guards to watch the front gate at his lavish estate.

Film Review: 'The Hunter's Prayer'

Reviewed online, Houston, June 6, 2017. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 91 MIN.

Production: (U.S.-Spain-Germany) A Saban Films release of a Filmengine Entertainment production, in association with Vandal Entertainment and Full Clip Prods. Producers: Navid McIlhargey, Anthony Rhulen, Christopher Milburn, Sam Worthington, John Schwarz, Michael Schwarz, Tove Christensen, Michael Wexler, Juan A, Garcia Peredo, Jimmy Costas, Paul Rock, Paul Leyden. Executive producers: Gavin Poolman, Duncan Reid, Hugo Heppell, Jonathan Mostow, George Castrounis, Jack Murray, Ildiko Kemeny, David Minkowski, Norman Merry, Sharon Hanson, Davin Andre.

Crew: Director: Jonathan Mostow. Screenplay: John Brancato, Michael Ferris, based on the novel by Kevin Wignall. Camera (color): Jose David Montero. Editor: Ken Blackwell.

With: Sam Worthington, Odeya Rush, Allen Leech, Amy Landecker, Martin Compston, Veronica Echegui.

More Film

  • Kevin Hart'Jumanji: The Next Level' film

    Kevin Hart to Star in Action-Comedy from 'Broad City' Alums (EXCLUSIVE)

    Universal Pictures is developing an untitled action-comedy based on an original idea from “Broad City’s” Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs with Kevin Hart attached to star. Aniello and Downs will write the script as well as executive produce. Malcolm D. Lee is on board to direct the film with Will Packer and James Lopez [...]

  • Jeremy Saulnier John Boyega

    Netflix Sets Ensemble for Jeremy Saulnier's 'Rebel Ridge' Starring John Boyega (EXCLUSIVE)

    Don Johnson, James Badge Dale, Zsane Jhe, James Cromwell and “The Crown” breakout Erin Doherty are set to join John Boyega in Netflix’s “Rebel Ridge,” a thriller from “Green Room” writer-director Jeremy Saulnier, Variety has learned. Like the 2013 crime drama “Green Room,” Saulnier’s upcoming movie is said to be a high-velocity thriller that explores [...]

  • The Indoraptor prepares to strike in

    'Jurassic World 3' Director Announces New Title

    Director Colin Trevorrow announced via Twitter on Tuesday that “Jurassic World 3” has started principal production, and he also slyly revealed that the sixth film in the “Jurassic” franchise has a new title: “Jurassic World: Dominion.” The new title — which appears on the slate for the film in Trevorrow’s tweet — evokes the biblical [...]

  • Chuat Reymond

    Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond on Berlin’s ‘My Little Sister’

    Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond’s “My Little Sister” (“Schwesterlein”) premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on Tuesday to strong critical and audience receptions, with particular praise heaped on lead actors Nina Hoss and Lars Eidinger. In his Variety review, Guy Lodge praised: “This is bright, unaffected naturalism with a fluidly roving camera, but also a [...]

  • Miriam Haley and Tarale Wulff

    Women Who Testified in Harvey Weinstein Trial Slam His Lawyers for 'Victim Blaming' 

    Six women testified during the Harvey Weinstein rape trial, and now that the former movie mogul was found guilty of two felony charges, those women are speaking out with newfound freedom. Miriam Haley, who was assaulted by Weinstein in 2006, resulting in him being convicted of a criminal sex act (which carries a maximum sentence [...]

  • E. L. James

    Movie Rights to 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Author's 'The Mister' Land at Universal (EXCLUSIVE)

    Following the massive success of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, Universal and author E. L. James are reteaming on the scribe’s next novel as the studio has optioned the rights to “The Mister,” James’ 2019 best-selling romance. Rights for the book, which recently hit the market, sparked a heated bidding war. James, who produced [...]

  • Bad Tales

    'Bad Tales': Film Review

    At a surprise party for his daughter, a randy Italian homeowner studies a neighbor’s wife through the sliding glass door and describes all the ways he’d like to violate her. In the bathroom, his 14-year-old son sits with his best friend, studying the hardcore porn sites listed in the browsing history of Dad’s cellphone. A [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content