The Hunter’s Prayer

Odeya Rush and Sam Worthington in The Hunter's Prayer. (Ster-Kinekor)
Odeya Rush and Sam Worthington in The Hunter's Prayer. (Ster-Kinekor)

What it's about:

After the rest of her family is murdered, Ella, a teenage girl attending boarding school in Switzerland, enlists the aid of the assassin sent to kill her to avenge her family.

What we thought

I'm getting slightly tired of asking this, but how on earth did this movie get a cinematic release when so many better – and more cinematic - movies don't? Is it the pun-tastic title? The C-list action star at the centre? Or maybe it's the starring role for the up and coming, beautiful Israeli actress who is quite possibly only a film or three away from her big breakthrough - Wonder Girl, maybe? To be honest, the answer is probably all down to the distributor buying this film as part of a bundle of cheap flicks to go along with their bigger releases but that just makes the whole thing sound all the more crass doesn't it? Lets just go with the lovely Ms Rush and call it a day, then.

However this film magically got to our screens, it becomes very quickly apparent that it really has no business being there. As is typical of these sorts of c-grade genre pictures, there's nothing massively wrong with it but there's next to nothing that's particularly good about it either. It's perfect for a drunken/ hungover hangout with a bunch of friends on a boring, late winter's night as background noise or as an excuse for another tub of popcorn or bottle of beer. Though, even then, the crappier the TV, the better.

As a full-blown cinematic release, though, it feels woefully out of place. Sam Worthington continues to fail miserably to live up to his fifteen minutes of fame in James Cameron's increasingly irrelevant Avatar and his work here is a pretty good example of why. His acting isn't terrible or anything but he lacks the charisma and self-knowing comedic chops to challenge folks like Dwayne Johnson or Jason Statham in the dopey action game, but he also lacks the range or depth to work as a major dramatic actor. His appearance here is pretty emblematic of the entire film.  

The direction by Jonathan Mostow is, again, more or less competent but as can be expected of the guy whose biggest hit – by far – to date was Terminator 3, it lacks any real visual flare or distinctiveness of vision. As for the leaden, humourless script, the only things surprising thing about it is that it's actually based on a novel! Spending 90-minutes with this mountain of clichés is just about doable but, unless the novel was completely different, I can't imagine dedicating actual hours of reading to it. 

As for Odeya Rush, there's still a real chance that given the right material, she will become a young actress to watch and she has already put in solid-but-not-quite-there performances in solid-but-not-quite-there YA films like The Giver and Goosebumps. It would probably be best to ignore her performance here, though, not because - again, again, again! - her performance is bad or anything but because she looks utterly disinterested throughout. And she's still the best thing in the film! 
Hunter's Prayer isn't the sort of thing to avoid in the cinema like the old proverbial because it's awful, let alone offensive, but if you are to have any chance in hell of actively enjoying it, might I suggest gathering a group of friends, lots of alcohol and the most '80s TV possible. Or, better yet, just don't bother. The film itself certainly didn't.