Sometimes it’s hard to leave the environment cage where we grow up and live, as happens for the unfortunate kids in this 2019 crime movie, Run With the Hunted.
Indeed, the still-young protagonist must flee his suburban home after he kills his best friends’ disgusting father.
On the run from the law, the boy arrives in town without knowing anyone or having anywhere to go and could end up very badly if he did not happen upon a group of small-time delinquents.
After trying to rob him, they welcome him into their lives under the leadership of two adult patrons, who organize the thefts by giving them a home and protection in return.
Many years pass and this boy emerges as the smartest and toughest among all his peers, becoming practically the boss’s right-hand man along with his equally young and fierce girlfriend.
The chief is glad to have such skilled and strong associates, yet he also fears they may oust his control over the gang sooner or later.
It creates tension between the young thieves, who begin to suspect each other, although they dream of being together as a family deep down.
At the same time, a new boy and girl arrive in town, setting out on the trail of this criminal.
Indeed they are precisely the two children he had saved many years before, now grown up and eager to find their old friend.
Unfortunately, fate will put them in danger, ending up as a target the gang leader wants to eliminate no matter what.
So the boy will have to choose his own destiny, in an inner struggle between the child he once was and the ruthless man he was forced to become early on.
A movie mistreated like its protagonists
Rarely have I seen audiences and critics mercilessly massacre a movie as with Run With the Hunted in 2019.
From a particular perspective, I may understand the skepticism of ordinary moviegoers, who perhaps were expecting an over-the-top criminal rising like Al Pacino as the legendary Scarface by Brian De Palma.
Instead, here we have a protagonist with a mono-expressive but no less intense or exciting face, played by a superb Michael Pitt, who reaches the pinnacle of his career.
Those I cannot forgive, on the other hand, are the movie critics, who have joined in an almost unanimous chorus calling this movie a missed opportunity.
Instead, the story hits the mark by describing an America without soul and compassion for its young outsiders, abandoned on the streets like stray dogs with no choice but to become criminals.
John Swab directs a movie that relies on a steely script (again written by him), always keeping his characters human without mythologizing or taking the easy route of crime action adventure.
The camera switches between wide and medium angles, where the director shows us urban decay and the despair most of America does not want to see.
From these micro landscapes of the city, we then move to close-ups on the faces of these young homeless and hopeless souls, organized in a modern Lord of the Flies style microworld society.
I can understand how the slow pace of the narrative might throw off many crime action fans, but we certainly cannot say that the direction could be more active and have an overall vision.
When children become adults too early
I give kudos to all the children playing the initial part: Mitchell Paulsen, Madilyn Kellam, Evan Assante, and Kylie Rogers.
Although very young, these little actors did their best and succeeded in putting the story on the right track from the very beginning with their performance.
Switching to the adult cast, Michael Pitt confirms his extraordinary talent in a terrific role I place second among my favorites only after 2007’s scary Funny Games.
The actor is strong and confident playing this guy, nearly looking like an apathetic Terminator from the outside, although by small quivers in his countenance, we can understand his hidden emotions.
Equally complicated is his criminal partner Dree Hemingway, who appears to be the perfect female counterpart to his role, equally resolute and passionate.
The young couple is pride but also the fear of boss Ron Perlman, recruiter of unhappy young boys to his gang’s cause of young thieves and crooks.
Unfortunately, the man does not seem as wise in choosing adult associates, such as the dirty profiteer Mark Boone Jr, an actor always amusing despite playing a distinctly negative role.
This obsession will lead them to cross that line they cannot come back from, leaving the so-called everyday life to enter the lawless world of these young outsiders.
Obviously, Run with the Hunted was a massive failure in 2019 since, in the first place, reviews and word of mouth from critics and audiences had already slaughtered the movie.
On the other hand, anyone should watch and judge it for themselves, leaving any prejudice and the typical action movies’ expectations out the door.