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.

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