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The Hunters / Removal

Remove these two from your sights.

Rod Lott December 27th, 2011

First things first: Please watch this trailer:

Looks fairly cool, no? At least I thought so. Turns out, however, that the trailer is hardly representative of the film that "The Hunters" really is. For starters, it doesn't even show its leading man!

That is Chris Briant, a Frenchman whose grasp of the English language is sub-Schwarzeneggerian. He plays an idealistic investigator fresh from the military who puts his nose exactly where his shady new bosses specifically tell him not to: the desolate, abandoned Fort Goben, when Bad Things Happen, committed by disenfranchised, disillusioned, blue-collar good ol' boys belonging to the 99 percent.

How did Briant, a charmless neophyte, land such a plum role? And one that pairs him with "Glee" gal Dianna Agron as a quasi-love interest? Here's the answer I learned after the fact: Briant (né Étienne Huet) also serves as its first-time director.

In other words, "The Hunters" equates to a fairly slick-looking vanity project, which explains why its story is so plodding, why it feels cobbled together from three or four movies, why Terence Knox ("Children of the Corn II") was allowed to SHOUT ALL HIS LINES! — why, in essence, "The Hunters feels as if it redefines "incomprehensible."

Fellow debuting director Nick Simon's "Removal" is better, but not by much. After seeing his recently fired pal (Billy Burke, "Red Riding Hood") having killed his wife and daughter before killing himself, Cole (Mark Kelly, "Dead & Breakfast") has watched his own life to fall to pieces because of an inability to cope. Plagued by vivid hallucinations, Cole is on strong meds, has inadvertently scared off his spouse (Emma Caulfield, TV's "Life Unexpected"), and is reduced to taking a job cleaning carpets.

When Cole is hired to do the floors of a mansion of a super-rich super-prick (Oz Perkins, son of Anthony and one of the co-writers with Simon) in one night for $5,000 cash, he suspects something strange is up. He's right, but geez, does the script keep you baffled — not in the good, suspenseful way, either. It's just too damn confusing for too long.

You might actually like it better if you had its "twist" ruined from the start, so you can check if it even works. For me, had the brief role of a Realtor played poorly but filled nicely by Kelly Brook ("Piranha 3D") been expanded from two scenes to, well, all of them, "Removal" would've commanded my attention more, even if it failed to be any more lucid. —Rod Lott

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