90The Hunter never declares who is good or bad or right or wrong. And the implications of Martin's decision when the moment of truth finally arrives are left for the viewer to unravel.
5Though "The Hunter" has an aptly casted protagonist, Willem Dafoe, as fitting for the film as any actor, it fails to consummate any real solution; audiences are left waiting for the hunt through inquisitive lens, are briefly interrupted with forays into detractingly impertinent melodramma (the remote farmhouse with a grieving drug-addled mother and her two vexatious children), and then are met with poetic, philosophical, and transcendental overtones, which although are redeeming, feel forced and ultimately come too late. What television director, Daniel Nettheim, gets wrong is that he leans too heavily on the flinty, chisel-featured Dafoe, who single-handedly dominates the film's action, with no support from anyone else but Sam Neil, who is confoundingly given too inconsequential a role--he deserves better. As mentioned, Dafoe is great, again solidifying his prowess as a physical actor; he is so engrossing to watch, one can't help but wonder if his maniliness--gathering wood for fire, preparing traps, and taking aim at targets--can be made into his own television show; he's more rugged, raw, and untamed than other reality-TV survivalists. But, perhaps the most captivating element of 'Hunter' is its astounding cinematography from Robert Humphrey, who wonderfully captures the Tasmanian frondescence; the lush Tasmanian buttongrass and enchanting mountain peaks serve as effective backdrops to the increasing unease and dread. Overall, "The Hunter" is an ecological think piece that is aided by a strong lead and wonderous landscape, but suffers to actualize itself into anything but, "what if..." One is likely to leave the theater changed, thinking about it long after the credits have rolled, but such contemplation can't be had without a heaping sense of displeasure over the film's concluding irresolution. Put briefly: "The Hunter" is lean.… Full Review »
9It's rare to to watch a film that reaches into the soul of the viewer to nip and prod at the insecurities and emotional journeys that have been taken, but The Hunter, through a metaphorical sight, does exactly that.
Willem Dafoe delivers an unforgettably incredible and gripping performance under his cover alias of Martin David, a sort of undercover mercenary who has been hired and sent to the one of the last remaining great wilderness, Tasmania, by a mysterious company looking for the last remaining Tasmanian tiger, believed to be extinct.
As we kick off with Martin receiving a frosty reception from the town folk, he is met with the hospitality of a mother and her two children, who have been reeling after the disappearance of their father.
Martin sets off into the sprawling forestry, and this is truly where the film finds its feet, this is a test of survival, and a personal battle of wits and questions of life choices as Martin is increasingly the victim of mysterious anomalies within the secluded land
He grows increasingly close to the family he is staying with, as they are dealing with their missing husband/father, and hardship from the people in the town due to their lifestyle.
The cinematography of The Hunter is on a scale that could match any epic blockbuster, its beautiful panning shots with a widescreen view of the Tasmanian wilderness, along with the quieter and isolated moments involving Dafoe and his gun are some of the best scenes of the film, and thus solidifying Dafoe's performance as flawless even more.
The film ultimately paints an abstract picture, basically meaning that we are not quite sure who is right and who is wrong, what is good and what isn't. It isn't a straight-up catch your prey film, but one with a thoughtful and emotional, detailed and gritty story, that buy the time the climax rolls around, Dafoe is menacing as a man now out to survive, out to live, but most of all, out to finish his work and make peace with whatever demons have haunted him. The drama between the family and the wilderness truly sets this film apart from any other, with stellar supporting performances from Frances O'Connor and Sam Neill, a journey that will leave many surprised at the scope of this film, but the underrated brilliance of its depth, easily one of the best films to arrive in the last few years with one of the most memorable standalone performances from Dafoe.
Tragic but thrilling, gritty, cold, but easily captivating.… Full Review »