Looking for a bit of exciting escapism, I decided to check out The Hunter, a pretty decent-looking thriller. Starring Willem Dafoe, it follows a mercenary on the hunt for an elusive animal, thought to be extinct. And wham bam within five minutes we were off hunting fucking Tasmanian tigers. However, as the story unfolded, this movie turned out to be something very different than I initially thought it would be. A captivating drama with an emotional story exploring a lot of different issues. Issues that all come together in a very nice and intelligent way. And you don’t get too caught up in them. While other people thought this was a flaw, I rather enjoyed it, being just a silent observer.
On the other hand, the framework for this story is very familiar. We get the usual themes of an outsider in a small community struggling to survive, corporations, and eco disasters. You will think you’re watching a movie from the seventies or eighties. Wolfen comes to mind but that’s another movie set in the urban jungle. The Hunter features lush and alien vistas of beautiful Tasmanian nature. For a change, we’re not wandering through the dry Australian outback or swamps full of crocs. We’re also not swimming with sharks or even frolicking down Wolf Creeks full of Mick Taylors. The jungle here looks like a tropical one but the trees and other vegetation is just a bit off. Like we’re in some parallel universe.
Meet Martin David, an experienced mercenary doing all kinds of covert operations. His latest one will take him to the remote island of Tasmania in Australia. Martin needs to track down and capture a Tasmanian tiger, an animal not seen for a hundred years…
So, by now, I think you already know what type of movie this is. The one with those long and immersive shots of nature, teleporting you to this stunning landscape. There are almost no thrills or heart-pounding moments here as the story slowly progresses. This doesn’t mean that the movie is boring, just that it’s not that type of a movie. The Hunter is one of those immersive experiences helmed by Willem Dafoe’s stellar performance. He’s in almost every scene of this movie and you can bet your ass he was simply captivating. Did you know that he has an unusually large penis? Moreover, Lars Von Trier was scared and confused by it along with the rest of the crew filming Antichrist. I should also mention Sam Neill, nailing another familiar role. Check him out in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, featuring a relatively similar vibe.
Finally, I just want to say that you should not be dismayed by the slower pace or lack of intensity. At times, cute and even endearing, The Hunter is a different kind of a beast. If, however, you’re looking for that type of experience, I recommend Hunter Hunter. Also, I can’t help but mention Calibre, featuring Scottish highlands and a more straightforward story. Well, now that we got that out of the way, you should know that The Hunter is based on a novel written by Julia Leigh. The same Julia Leigh who wrote and directed one of the strangest movies of 2011, Sleeping Beauty.
Director: Daniel Nettheim
Writers: Alice Addison, Wain Fimeri, Daniel Nettheim
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Callan Mulvey, Morgan Davies, Frances O’Connor, Finn Woodlock
Fun Facts: Leeches were a big problem for Willem Dafoe during the production. However, he stoically endured the long nature shots, joking that he didn’t lose any blood.