British director John Boorman’s 1967 Hollywood debut (he was hired off the back of Dave Clark Five vehicle ‘Catch us if you Can’, amazingly) is a slippery beast. The story – from Donald E Westlake’s frequently adapted novel ‘The Hunter’ – is magnificently simple. Walker (Lee Marvin) wants revenge on the hoods who left him for dead, so he goes out and kills them, one by one. Marvin was never better, the ruthless personification of late ’60s bulldog cool, all snarling quips and sharp suits. And Angie Dickinson is equally magnificent as his squeeze Chris, simultaneously remote and needy, brittle and brash.
Boorman’s flashy direction hasn’t aged quite so well. His unashamedly Godardian smash-cuts and off-kilter angles add style and there are moments of breathtaking visual creativity, from the not-quite-freeze-frames over the opening credits to a series of confrontational close-ups when things turn violent. But at times, it feels a touch self-conscious – a box of directorial tricks employed to compensate for an occasional lack of real substance elsewhere.