I gotta hand it to Anchor Bay. When they release Direct to DVD action flicks, they actually put a little attention to it. Unlike the ones studios like Lionsgate release, these have surprisingly good production values, and look like they could have been given a theatrical release. Well, not a wide theatrical release, but a theatrical release nonetheless. Sadly, that doesn't mean that said movie is going to be any good, such as "Hunt to Kill", starring former professional wrestler Steve Austin.
Jim Rhodes (Austin) is a former border agent mourning the loss of his partner Lee Davis (Eric Roberts, whose something of a guardian angel for those of us that frequent Direct to DVD movies) and having to raise his rebellious daughter Kim (Marie Avgeropoulos) in the Montana mountains. That is, until a gang of trigger happy fugitives, led by the clearly off his rocker Banks (Gil Bellows) take them hostage in the wilderness. Well, Banks screws Jim over, and you can guess where that leads...
If "Hunt to Kill" has anything going for it, it's the over the top performance from Bellows and the third act. Bellows chews scenery like there's no tomorrow, and is clearly having the time of his life playing a villain, thus making the proceedings occasionally tolerable. Also, the last third of the movie is when it finally becomes what it wants to be, and that's a fun, 80's style action movie with enjoyable action scenes and dumb but campy one liners. Hell, the best one, and the main reason this isn't getting less than four stars, is because of Jim saying near the end "When I hunt, I hunt to kill!" It's one of the few moments in which the movie doesn't take itself too seriously, and decides to play it up. I honestly applauded that line.
Sadly, the fun is too far and in between. Apart from the third act and the Banks character, this is mostly just boring. All of the other performances are too bland, with Austin having three main emotional responses: glare, scowl, and talk in a low voice. To say he lacks emotional range is like saying the 1976 Buccaneers sucked. It also doesn't help that the whole thing feels like it was written by a High School drop out, with characters making dumber than usual decisions (people yelling just so Rhodes can kill them with a crossbow, villains that spend most of their time fighting amongst each other, the daughter not escaping when she has so many clear opportunities to do so) and most of what happens before the third act being boring as sin. Plus, it clearly wants to be an action flick in the vein of "Commando" and "Cliffhanger", but as I mentioned earlier, it takes a while to get there, and until then, you have to sit through tedium.
It's a shame, because in the right hands, this could have been the kind of dumb-but-fun action flick it was aiming to be. Instead, it's just dumb. Still, at least that last one liner was great.