Hunt to Kill review (Blu-ray)

Any WWE wrestler who appears in films these days inevitably winds up being compared to Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, such is the latter's movie success, which is a little unfair because few have the same charisma, looks and ability to poke fun at themselves as Dwayne. And such is the case with 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, the Rattlesnake, who during his time in the ring was just as, if not more, popular than The Rock, but has failed to really hit the big time as a film star, a turn as a villain in The Expendables aside (notably, Hunt To Kill also includes Expendables co-stars Gary Daniels and Eric Roberts).

Austin's persona in the ring was as a gruff, angry, plain-speaking, no-nonsense, beer-swilling loner who was as happy breaking the rules and sticking it to the Man as he was smashing someone's face into the mattress. His screen persona in all his films to date is little different - to the point where it makes you wonder whether it's written into his contract that he must never break into a smile or show any emotion other than stony-faced detachment and/or animal rage. As such he's perfectly at home in generic Point-A-to-Point B action fare as Hunt To Kill, which is a throwback to the straight to rental flicks of the 80s (and hence somewhat of a surprise to be appearing on such an expensive format to author and replicate as Blu-ray).

The plot pits Austin's border patrol officer against a gang of thieves who have not only double crossed each other, but have also kidnapped his daughter - bad move. The film has it fair share of explosions and prerequisite fisticuffs, which are fun enough to keep the interest, and probably draw 'whoops' from WWE fans, but are simply not vibrant or ingenious enough to really generate excitement. There are nods to films such as the Rambo series, particularly First Blood, and Commando, but not the quality of direction, pace or plain and simple fun. The best duel is between Austin and Brit kickboxer Daniels, who is on reliably fine form, and the final battle with Gil Bellows is laughably OTT, but there's lots of padding in-between and even the most die-hard action fans will be hard pushed not to cast an eye at least once at their watch. It's good to see Battlestar Galactica's Michael Hogan in a different role, although sadly underused, while there's always a certain amount of joy to be had from watching Eric Roberts get blown up, which happens in the first few moments, spoiler haters.

But, overall, while Hard To Kill is perfectly fine as an action thriller, and certainly better than the other recent Austin release, The Stranger, it's not as enjoyable as Welcome To The Jungle or Walking Tall.

EXTRAS There aren't any, but at least it is in 1080p and has DTS-HD Master Audio.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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