The Hunter [2011] (9/4/12)

Movie Two Hundred Five

The HunterA mercenary is hired by a company to hunt a species believed to be extinct for its genetics in The Hunter.

Martin David (Willem Dafoe), a loner mercenary, is hired by biotech company Red Leaf to travel to Tasmania to hunt the Tasmanian Tiger, an animal thought to be extinct but recently sighted. David is tasked with hunting the animal and bringing back organ and tissue samples for genetic research and cloning the animal. When David arrives under the guise of a researcher, he stays with a mother, Lucy Armstrong (Frances O’Conner) and her children Sass and Bike (Morgana Davies and Finn Woodlock). Lucy’s husband, an environmentalist, has been missing and it’s unclear if the hostility from local loggers or some other force is to blame. As David continues his hunt for the Tiger, he unravels the secrets of the Armstrong family, the local strife between loggers and environmentalists as well as Red Leaf.

I have long been fascinated by cryptozoology so when I heard this movie deals with the Tasmanian Tiger I knew I had to see it. From this standpoint, the film met my expectations. The archive footage and special effects really made me enjoy The Hunter, even despite it’s narrative flaws. If you, like me, were mostly interested in watching the film from a crytpozoologic standpoint, you will likely get a kick out of The Hunter.

Much of The Hunter has very little dialogue and focuses on David carefully hunting. His demeanor is changed by the Armstrong children but I thought much of the interaction with the family seemed kind of tacked on and even rushed at points. Yeah, the kids are cute and all but would a few weeks (I think that was the timeline for the film) really change the ingrained loner mercenary to a caring family man? Ehh, I’m not so sure. I understand this was all necessary for the confrontations between David and the locals but there was almost too much reliance on the film’s plot for my liking.

Dafoe gives one hell of a performance here, considering he is onscreen for nearly the entire film. I’m not sure many other actors could have pulled off the quiet yet resolved mood that Dafoe delivers here. Almost more remarkable are the actors playing the Armstrong children, both of whom I really enjoyed their performances in The Hunter and I think have great acting careers ahead of them if they pursue it.

I haven’t seen many Australian films but if The Hunter is any indication, there is a lot of promise from the country and director David Nettheim. While the basis of the film was not totally compelling for me, the technical aspects were all very impressive. Had a name like Willem Dafoe not been attached The Hunter may not have gotten as much attention but the film does an admirable job telling its story.

I give it 3 Tasmanian Tiger archive footage out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


31 responses to “The Hunter [2011] (9/4/12)

  1. Some of the best films Ive seen (mainly horror) have come from Australia. Got this one on my watchlist, as it also stars someone from an aussie TV show I like……Anyway good write up buddy, sounds a cool little film 🙂

      • Sure man – these are ones I have reviewed if you want my thoughts on them, and they are all horror related (what else do you expect lol) but my favourites would be:
        Snowtown – true story about murders, very violent but brilliant
        Wolf Creek – another ‘true story’ based on serial killer
        The Loved Ones – a messed up prom date gone wrong, but great fun!
        Dying Breed – similar to The Hunter as its a search for an extinct animal, but with more inbreds and torture!
        The Clinic – clever mystery/horror
        The Tunnel – not brilliant but above average found footage film

        Few more of my favourites I havent reviewed would be:
        Black Water – true story crocodile film
        Rogue – same as above, but different croc!
        Picnic at Hanging Rock

        Just my 2 cents anyway 🙂

        • I quite liked “Dying Breed” despite its flaws. Very interesting premise. The same with “Black Water,” “Wolf Creek,” (from what I remember way back in 2005/2006) and “Rogue.” But I think the best modern Australian horror I’ve seen so far as “Lake Mungo.” That movie creeped me out! And it still does…

          Sorry, but I hated “The Loved Ones.” =X

          I wish to watch “Snowtown Murders” in a week or so (available via streaming). I’ll add the other titles to my list. 🙂

          • Surprised to hear you hated The Loved Ones, I loved it, but we all have different tastes 🙂 Havent seen Lake Mungo but I bought it a couple of weeks back as a few people have recommended it. I will get it watched soon!

  2. I like your take on this Andy. I felt much the same. Dafoe is undeniably good but his characters motivations never made complete sense to me. Good film but it could have been better.

    • After writing this and thinking on it some more…I think the same conclusion (with the tiger) could have been made without the Armstrong family entirely. All the strife with the locals would still make sense, as would the stuff with Jarrah Armstrong…So that just made me like the film less for not only including all of it, but relying so heavily on it.

      • It was the relationship with the family that never really got me either. Was it supposed to show a gentler, more caring, nature to Dafoe’s character? Probably, but it left the ambiguity of him even more in question for me. Without giving too much away to those that haven’t seen it, I just didnt get why he got so involved.

        • Ditto – I almost feel like there should have been a flashback showing his past life with his family or something…Anything that would have made his motivations clearer. A few cute kids without their dad and he throws away all of loner traits? Come on…

  3. I’m loving the reviews of Australian films you have started doing. I think for a small country (population wise) we make a lot of really good films… I may be biased though. Let me know if you want some recommendations.

    This is a pretty weird film which is definitely flawed. I quite enjoyed it though, I think moreso than you. I suspect this is because the interactions between the Defoe character and the family he meets rang a little more true for me. I agree on Defoe’s performance, he is really fantastic in this movie.

    • It’s mostly coincidental, it wasn’t an active decision – though I have enjoyed it!

      During my viewing of the film the family interaction was more of a niggling feeling rather than anything that overtly bothered me but the more I thought about it (and started writing about it) the more I didn’t like it but I don’t think it dragged the film down, it just kept the film from being great, in my eyes.

      If you have any other Aussie film suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

  4. Willem’s always good value. Kathryn Bigelow’s 1982 slow-burn 50’s biker picture The Loveless – her first feature (co-directed with Lynch’s pal Monty Montgomery) – was Willem’s first starring role and is well worth checking out if you’re a fan of all things Willem (or Bigelow). 🙂

  5. Thank you for reviewing The Hunter, Andy! I am sitting in my office at DISH looking for movies to watch tonight and I just came across this movie. I think it is the cryptozoological aspect of the film that intrigues me the most; I would like to see how they work that old footage in the movie. I just ordered the film and I will be ready for me to watch when I get home from work. I hope the movie explains why Dafoe has to kill the animal instead of taking it alive. It seems that it would be more valuable intact than in pieces.

    • The archive footage looks amazing in the film, but I think he just finds it online and watches it (though we get it fullscreen).
      I don’t remember if they talk about why they want it dead, but since he’s a hunter I’m not sure he cares/questions it.
      Hope you like it!

  6. Pingback: My September Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

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