My Thoughts On… The Hunter

Just a quick reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to the section titled Why Should You See This Film? where you will find no spoilers!


Martin, a mercenary, is sent from Europe by a mysterious biotech company to the Tasmanian wilderness on a hunt for the last Tasmanian tiger. (via IMDb)

What I Liked

  • I watched The Hunter because I recently heard a review of it by Mark Kermode on an old Wittertainment podcast. I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen it myself, but I invariably trust Dr K’s judgement, and when I spotted it on Netflix, I thought I’d give it a go. It was actually an entirely different sort of film to what I expected. I really enjoyed the story, something completely different to what I am used to seeing.
  • I’ve not seen Willem Defoe in an awful lot, but I’ve never had any particularly strong feelings on him. Here, the whole films relies on him; he is in just about every scene, and he carries the film perfectly. He’s never looked better than he does here, with a beard (better with a beard), and imbues Martin with so many contradictions. At first he does just seem like a mercenary, a man who has a simply has a job to do, but almost as soon as he arrives in Australia, it becomes clear that there is much more to him than that. It seems obvious to say so, as he is often the only character on screen, but Defoe draws the eye towards him with a charisma that is subtle and understated.
  • The best way to describe the film, and the way I have been describing it, is quiet. It’s not action packed (though it does have a couple of fast-paced sequences), it is patient and slow, but never in a plodding way.
  • The scenery of The Hunter is just wonderful, and the cinematography is beautifully atmospheric. Tasmania becomes a character in and of itself, and the film could easily serve as a tourist film for the island.
  • Whilst this film belongs, heart and soul, to Willem Defoe, in terms of performances, the supporting roles of the two children that Martin befriends are played magnificently by Morgana Davies and Finn Woodlock. As Sass, Davies tends to steal the show as a precocious and outspoken little girl, but Woodlock’s mute performance as Bike is endearing and played with a quiet tenderness.
  • The Hunter is 102 minutes long. Anything that comes is around the hour and a half mark gets an instant thumbs up from me, because I am so bored of watching films that exceed two hours when they should be half an hour shorter. Seriously, if I spot a film on Netflix that is around 90 minutes long, I am about 400 times more likely to watch it.



What I Didn’t Like

  • I can honestly say that there wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this film. There seems to be a certain backlash against the political message of the film; there is a definite sense of a liberal message about the perils of corporate greed. But this isn’t something that bothered me (probably because of my own liberal tendencies).


Why Should I See This Film?

I’d recommend this film to almost anyone, except maybe people who are huge fans of the Transformers franchise. There’s no crash bang special effects here, no chase sequences or violent set pieces. It’s a quiet, atmospheric film, with a fantastic central performance by a bearded (and very attractive) Willem Defoe. His performance sits perfectly in the rugged, dangerous landscape of Tasmania, and although the film seems to be about the search for the presumed-extinct Tasmania Tiger, it becomes about a lot more than that, and although it’s something of a cliché, it’s more about Defoe’s character finding himself than about the tiger. It’s available on Netflix, and it’s only 102 minutes long. See it if you can.


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