Movie Review: 'The Hunter's Prayer' (2017)

Movie Poster for 'The Hunter's Prayer' starring Sam Worthington and Odeya Rush
These days, good action films are hard to come by and great action films are an all-out rarity. Much to this fan of the genre’s significant surprise, “The Hunter’s Prayer” is the latter. It is precisely paced, evocatively directed, and terrifically acted.

This entertaining genre entry centers on Lucas (Sam Worthington), an assassin hired to kill Ella (Odeya Rush), the orphaned daughter of a corrupt businessman, whose enemy has already succeeded in ending his and his wife’s life.

What happens next is best left as much of a mystery as possible. Movies such as “The Hunter’s Prayer” work better when you go in knowing less and for the sake of allowing this movie to hit prospective viewers with the optimum impact that is all that will be said regarding the plot in this review.

Unlike “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” “The Hunter’s Prayer” features an incredibly likable teenage protagonist in Ella. She is strong and vulnerable, a teenager overwhelmed by a tragic set of circumstances. She navigates these events the best she can while maintaining a personal humility and determination that is appealingly believable. 

There are some stunning action sequences in this film, including a dazzling car chase that rivals some of the more notorious to hit the screen. Director Jonathon Mostow finds the synergy between character development and the need to thrill. 

He slows things down long enough for its characters to catch their breath and briefly enough to prevent the story from going cold. It’s a skill he similarly displayed in “Breakdown.” Fantastically lensed by José David Montero, the emerald-tinged cinematography helps the film solidify its aesthetic tone as equal parts; gritty actioner and emotive drama.

Alternate movie poster for 'The Hunter's Prayer' starring Sam Worthington
[Image by Saban Films]
As Lucas, actor Sam Worthington gives one of his best performances. This material suits him better than his previous roles have and it shows. Worthington gives Lucas a strong dose of personality that while subdued is never muted.

Similarly striking gold is Odeya Rush, whose impressively layered performance, elevates Ella beyond the typical teen character usually featured in these sort of cinematic scenarios. Rush holds her own against all of her co-stars and she and Worthington forge a strong on-screen rapport that makes the storyline work.

In this tale, you will find shades of “Leon: The Professional,” the aforementioned “Jack Reacher” sequel, as well as the original “Hitman” and “Bourne” movies. The great news for “The Hunter’s Prayer” is that it runs along those lines without feeling repetitious. It is also leagues more engaging than the fifth installment in the “Bourne” franchise.

That’s because “The Hunter’s Prayer” knows how to do something most of these previously mentioned films have failed to. Let its lead character be showcased as a man with super abilities.

Albeit as it approaches its final chapter it does indulge its lead’s flaws more than it should. It is a burgeoning requisite that has hampered the genre as a whole and sadly, this film also fails to escape its wrath entirely.

Overall, “The Hunter’s Prayer” is a prime example of how action films should be done; a character-driven story about a protagonist/antagonist seeking redemption and the test of courage that will be the difference in deciding that. As a film, “The Hunter’s Prayer” answers a lot of hopes this fan of the genre wishes to see exercised in the future.

Rating: 7.8/10

[Featured Image by Saban Films]