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Gerard Butler in the 'The Bounty Hunter' - hit or miss?

‘The Bounty Hunter’ has Gerard Butler in the title role trying to haul in his ex-wife in this slow-moving action/romantic comedy.

By Andy KleinFilm critic / March 19, 2010

Jennifer Aniston, left, and Gerard Butler are shown in a scene from the action comedy 'The Bounty Hunter.'

Barry Wetcher/Columbia Pictures/AP

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The premise of “The Bounty Hunter,” an action/romantic comedy from director Andy Tennant (“Hitch”), is a perfectly legitimate variation on Capra’s “It Happened One Night.”

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More than a year after an acrimonious divorce, cop-turned-bounty-hunter Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler) gets the dream assignment – bringing in his ex-wife, investigative reporter Nicole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston), who has missed a court date.

Gosh, will they fight like cats and dogs? Will they have to team up to elude two different groups of bad guys? Will their forced intimacy make them realize that they really do belong together?

Well, duh. The sheer predictability isn’t the problem; I wouldn’t have the plot play out any other way. It’s everything else that’s the problem. At points, the film sinks below the level of competent: A stupid plot trick early on is so badly edited that it takes another minute to figure out what’s supposed to be going on.

The pacing – both overall and within scenes – is so slack that even the irresistible Aniston and some usually reliable character players can’t liven things up. Butler exceeds expectations simply by virtue of not yelling “This is Sparta!” every 20 seconds.

Grade: F (Rated PG-13 for sexual content, including suggestive comments, language, and some violence.)

Peter Rainer, the Monitor's film critic, is on vacation this week.

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