The film follows Ralph Thorson (Steve McQueen), nicknamed “Papa”. Papa works as a bounty hunter travelling from city to city to find those wanted by the law. When it comes to bounty hunting, Papa has been doing it for a long time and has the status of being the best in the trade. After Papa successfully captures two criminals for outstanding warrants, he returns home to his long term girlfriend, who is pregnant with his child. But while dealing with contracts, Papa soon receives horrifying death threats from a criminal he put away many years ago.
With death threats being made, Papa decides to protect and support his girlfriend as best as possible, including equipping her with a pistol. When it comes to fatherhood, Papa isn’t overly excited and has concerns about his future role as a father. He generally doubts himself, fearing this is an area he won’t succeed in.
The film is based on a real-life bounty hunter named Ralph Thorson, who wrote a novel of the same story. The Hunter is best described as an action film with fun stunts and well-timed comedic moments, mostly from Steve McQueen as Papa. Steve McQueen is a major highlight here, and the actor delivers many fun moments. One example of this is how Papa drives many nice cars throughout but can never actually seem to drive them properly and has various incidents. After all, the actor is well known as a skilled racing car driver, so seeing the opposite from him is enjoyable.
When it comes to action and stunts, I was surprised to discover that actor Steve McQueen did most of his stunts despite his health challenges during production. Those who enjoy a good old fashioned chase either by foot or with stylish cars will also enjoy this film as it delivers many admirable moments given the time. One such stunt involves Papa holding on to the roof of a train carriage. This scene is thrilling, dangerous and feels real even while watching in the present day.
As for the plot, The Hunter has many moments that feel exciting and unpredictable, plus the comedy on display is appreciative. But sadly, some aspects and subplots overstay their welcome and don’t serve any major purpose. One example of this is Papa coming to grips with becoming a father. The scenes and dialogue with his girlfriend take up a good portion of the film. It’s uninteresting, and these moments between the two characters slow the film down significantly.
Overall, I was quite surprised by how much fun I had with Steve McQueen’s last feature film. It’s filled with great stunts, fun action scenes, and comedic moments, which were surprising and witty given the actors’ work in previous films. Watching an old school bounty hunter track down various criminals is rather entertaining, and Steve McQueen’s character drives rather poorly, adding to the film’s excitement. Sadly, the film feels slightly cramped, including a side plot about the lead coming to grips with fatherhood, which slows the pacing. Nevertheless, there are plenty of entertaining moments in Steve McQueen’s last film, and it’s wildly memorable.