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Critical jabs aside, locals like Hunted

Never mind the harsh critical reviews that called it unimaginative, shallow and underdeveloped. Locals who saw 'The Hunted' during its opening weekend raved that the Oregon scenery was a kick to watch, and overall they were thrilled with the end result.

'It was excellent,' said Mike Creager, 30, of Northwest Portland. He saw the movie Sunday evening at the Broadway Metroplex Theatre downtown. 'They did a good job of showing Portland, although some subplots were a little iffy.'

Alecia Brock, 27, also of Northwest, likewise was wowed by the show. 'The knife fight was great,' she said. 'It was definitely entertaining, definitely worth it. I loved it.'

The masses seemed to agree. The film Ñ shot in the Portland area over a 13-week stretch two years ago Ñ opened in third place at the box office nationally this weekend, grossing $13.5 million at 2,516 theaters.

Many locals, such as 24-year-old downtown resident Nathan Lyons, said they only went to see the movie 'because it was made here.' The scenery didn't disappoint.

It ranged from the lush deep woods filmed at Silver Falls State Park, to scenes of a Northeast Portland neighborhood and a gritty view of Mary's Club downtown, which was supposedly outside the window of the Gus J. Solomon Courthouse. While both look out onto Southwest Broadway, the courthouse is about 10 blocks south.

Dan Vickery, 21, of North Portland noticed a few other moviemaking embellishments that only Portlanders would notice.

'The (Hawthorne) bridge was extra long,' he said. 'And I didn't know we had so many people walking around and so much smoke coming out of the manholes.'

The thriller features Benicio Del Toro as a renegade special-forces assassin who lives in the woods and kills hunters to protect wildlife. Tommy Lee Jones plays his former instructor in the art of knife combat, who has been hired by the FBI to bring in the 'killing machine.' Most of the 94-minute-long film is a series of fast-paced pursuits.

It was the biggest production ever to film in Oregon, bringing more than $30 million to the local economy, according to industry representatives. Many had high expectations for the film, directed by Oscar winner William Friedkin, whose work includes 'The French Connection' and 'The Exorcist.'

But many critics chastised 'The Hunted,' saying it had a shallow script and a tired plot recycled from the first 'Rambo' movie and 'The Fugitive.' The New York Post called it 'shameless, derivative schlock.' Salon magazine dismissed it as 'an utterly brain-dead and depressing thriller.'

Roger Ebert was among the most generous, giving it 3 1/2 stars out of four and calling it 'a pure and rather inspired example of the one-on-one chase movie.' The Washington Post's Rita Kempley says it was 'a good ride, briskly paced, well played and vividly photographed.'

As for Del Toro's character, viewers said it was tough to understand his motives. 'You wanted to sympathize with him,' said 23-year-old Megan Sage of Beaverton. 'But you couldn't, because he was evil.'

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