The Hunter – Review
Directed by Daniel Nettheim, who has a long list of television credits, The Hunter is a mixed bag of good acting and beautiful cinematography, but it’s pacing is drawn and somewhat unsatisfying. That’s not to say it’s a bad film, it’s not. Nettheim’s directing is good, albeit a little safe, but the core of the problem lies in the writing. The Hunter is definitely a slow burn.
Martin is a hunter/mercenary hired by a chemical research company to hunt down and kill a rare, and probably the last Tasmanian Tiger for exclusive rights to a venomous toxin that is part of its DNA. There is a narrow window for Martin to find the legendary beast as knowledge of the toxin is on the brink of going public and soon the Tasmanian outback will be crawling with hunters.
The Hunter stars Willem Dafoe as Martin, an accomplished hunter sent into the Tasmanian wilderness. I’ve always been a fan of Dafoe, right back to his early performance in Streets of Fire. Although his roles have been quite diverse over the years, either hit or miss, his performance here is nothing short of brilliant, probably one of his best in a long time. He takes the character through a range of emotions that often catch you off guard. If not for the bumpy ending The Hunter would have scored a bit higher. Sam Neill, putting on some weight, is also very good with a convincing Australian accent. To top it off. the kids in the film are incredible, once again proving there are some very talented young actors out there. I’d place The Hunter as a very strong character piece, and although slow and plodding at times, it’s hard not to be captured by the performances featured in this film.
The cinematography, capturing the Australian countryside is breathtaking at times, showing a harsh contrast in landscapes as Martin seeks his elusive prey. Dense forests, open plains, and cold rocky terrain scatter the territory. It’s hard to believe that such diverse scenery can exist in such close proximity. Never really having heard of the Tasmanian Tiger, I loved the look of the beast. Part coyote with cat-like features and a long almost crocodilian jaw. The CG used to bring it back to life (extinct for over 70 years) was believable
The story behind The Hunter is interesting and definitely captures your attention. Overall though, it’s a very slow burn, and not a film for action junkies. It takes it’s time breathing life into the characters, moving from a very cold atmosphere and slowly warming up. The problem I encountered with the film comes towards the very anti climatic end. Without giving too much away, the film takes some unnecessary turns that don’t quite add up, causing the film to head down a bleaker path. In a hiccup ending, the film redeems itself a little with two very sentimental scenes. I’ll be honest though, I was more affected by the tiger than the little boy.
The Hunter is a good film. I’m not entirely sure it’s necessary to see it in the theater, but it’s worth seeing nonetheless! Rent it when its available or see it on cheap night.