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Jennifer Aniston in 'Bounty Hunter'

Either because she's good at the role or - if you believe what you read while standing in line at the supermarket - because she's not really acting, Jennifer Aniston tends to play the victim. In Hollywood tripe like "Love Happens" or indie fare like "Management," she is invariably the wounded bird, the discarded flower. It's those eyes, a light shade of rescue-me blue.

So it's refreshing to see Aniston playing a resourceful, combative reporter named Nicole Hurley in "The Bounty Hunter," a romantic caper-comedy. Granted, Nicole is about as authentic as Lois Lane, but at least Aniston gets to throw a punch and pump a shotgun.

By contrast, her co-star, Gerard Butler, takes a step toward typecasting as Nicole's lovably loutish ex-husband, Milo Boyd. Butler did this shtick in last year's romantic comedy "The Ugly Truth"; this time he's a scrappy bounty hunter who discovers, to his delight, that his next job is to hunt down Nicole. (First stop: Belmont Park.)

The exes will be forced to re-embrace by the usual complicating factors, including a pair of bookie thugs, a corrupt cop and a clueless journalist (Jason Sudeikis). It all harks back to 1970s hits like "Silver Streak" and "Foul Play," both from the late, great Colin Higgins. They kept the action light and relied on bit players for color and comedy.

Tossed together by director Andy Tennant ("Hitch") and writer Sarah Thorp, "The Bounty Hunter" can't match those frothy classics, but there are worse ways to pass the time. And if you insist on seeing Aniston's eyes shimmer with emotional pain, don't worry - you'll get your wish.

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