Picks and Pans Review: The Hunter

updated 09/15/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/15/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Having become a star on TV's Wanted—Dead or Alive, Steve McQueen was a natural choice to play Ralph "Papa" Thorson, a real modern-day bounty hunter who has tracked down some 5,000 bail jumpers over the past 30 years. Thorson's life sounds like ready-made movie material, but it doesn't quite work out. McQueen delivers a pleasant, unadventurous performance as a man of few words who loves his girl (Kathryn Harrold), collects old toys and can't drive worth a damn. Like Thorson wrestling a stick shift, the screenplay moves in fits and starts while the direction of Buzz (Brian's Song) Kulik veers from offbeat humor to straight action. There are several chases, the best of which features a car and a huge thresher in a Nebraska cornfield. Yet the film lacks momentum. The only element of suspense—when will the demented ex-con try to kill Thorson?—is ignored for so long the showdown, which could have been a heartstopper, seems out of place. (PG)

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