The Hunter Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 11, 2014
An intriguing, though somewhat underdeveloped story of a mercenary hunter (Willem Dafoe) tasked with the mission of finding and killing the last remaining Tasmanian devil in the wilderness of Australia. He also becomes involved with the family he is staying with, whose father has gone missing. There are a lot of interesting elements here, and the ending in particular is powerful and moving, but ultimately this movie is a frustrating concoction of family drama mixed with man vs. nature. The scenes with Dafoe out in the wilderness are fantastic, while his moments with the family seem like a slight distraction from the main meat of the story. Dafoe, as always, is phenomenal and does a lot with his very thinly detailed character, and the cinematography is absolutely breathtaking. In the end though, it just feels slightly underdone, which is a shame because there is a lot of great material here.
Super Reviewer
½ March 29, 2014
Interesting dramatic thriller, The Hunter Starring Willem Dafoe on a search for the last Tasmanian tiger, a species that went extinct in 1936. This is a well acted film, one that boasts an engaging story, and effective direction to keep you involved. I love Dafoe's work, and he gives a terrific performance here. With that being said, The Hunter at times is a bit slow, but it does keep you involved because of its premise. I enjoyed the film for the sheer story alone, and I am familiar with the Tasmanian Tiger or Thylacine and a film based on trying to find the last one is interesting, even if its fiction, it's still a worthy and interesting idea for a film. If you enjoy Dafoe's films, you might enjoy this one as well. It may not be for everyone, but there are plenty of good elements here to make for a truly thriller adventure film that is sure to entertain anyone who enjoys these types of films. What makes this such a thrilling experience to watch is that director Daniel Nettheim uses dark atmosphere to tell this story, add to that the subtle dramatic elements and you have a well crafted picture that has some great performances provided by two accomplished actors. I enjoy films like these because it really jogs your imagination, and keeps you guessing right up until the end. The film is never boring, and everything presented on-screen works well because of a well written script and a truly interesting idea. Add to that a riveting, memorable performance by Dafoe, which is one of his finest in many years and you have a thriller that is gripping from the first frame right up to the climax.
Super Reviewer
½ March 16, 2012
A morally powerful movie that sends a clear message, powerful performance from Dafoe and Neil.
However a Slow paced and CGI tiger fails to impress!
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2011
review soon....
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2012
This is a really good film. Beautifully photographed, and slowly paced..yet not boring. One of the underrated gems of 2011, in my opinion. My husband didn't seem to care for the ending, but I liked it. Willem Dafoe is really good in this, and I found the storyline intriguing. Well done.
Super Reviewer
½ July 27, 2012
Willem Dafoe is one of those actors that despite possessing a recognisable name in cinema still isn't afraid to take on projects that are in danger of being unrecognised. He's worked with some of my favourite director's in David Lynch, Lars von Trier and Wes Anderson and yet always finds the time to be involved in lesser known works. This is another example of that.
A biotech corporation hires hunter Martin David (Willem Dafoe) to track down the, believed to be extinct, Tasmanian tiger. He finds board with a single mother (Frances O'Connor) and her two children who's father has disappeared in the hills, hunting the same animal. As David delves further into the hunt, he realises that all is not as it seems and his employers, the locals and a tracker (Sam Neill) have other plans for him.
The premise of this film about the hunt for the last known Tasmanian tiger is intriguing enough but it grips even more because of the finely tuned, low-key atmosphere; the indulgence in some beautiful sweeping landscapes and a lead actor that has character written all over his rugged face. From the opening alone, it's apparent that this film is in no rush and seemingly revels in it's methodical approach. Now, that's not normally a problem for me. In fact, I welcome it but when the film hints at a further depth without fully providing it then I begin to feel disappointment creeping in. There are themes of man's relationship with nature and environmental issues going on underneath it all somewhere but the deeper you dig, you realise it's not that profound. Yet, on the surface it would have you believe it is. That's not to say that there's not plenty to admire here. There is; it has a decent - if underdeveloped -conspiracy thriller element and it's more than competently shot with beautiful cinematography and another solid performance from Dafoe to add to his growing canon. Most of the weight is on his shoulders and he carries it well but despite a very good performance, I wasn't entirely convinced about his characters actions. On the one hand, he was very kind and concerned and the other, uncaring and cold. I think the fault with this lies with the script. His character isn't fleshed out enough leaving him enigmatic. Maybe this was intentional but I just took his character to be muddled, giving off mixed messages and never fully allowing me to identify with him. The rest of the characters came off even less developed which would leave you to believe that this air of mystery amongst them was part of it all. If so, it just didn't work for me.
It shares similar themes to "The Grey" before it, in terms of man versus nature and even in it's attempts at a philosophical approach. I enjoyed it but I expected a little more profundity.
Super Reviewer
½ May 28, 2012
Some Mysteries Should Never Be Solved

Very good movie! This is a film full of evocative movements, which all serve to drive the narrative forward and provide insights into the character. The plot is unique and I'm sure I have not come across anything similar before. The landscapes are amazingly beautiful and the story line keeps you going. I like Dafoe's performance on this.

A mercenary employed by a highly secretive biotech-research company sets out into the wilds of Tasmania in search of the elusive Tasmanian tiger -- an animal assumed to be extinct by scientists, yet rumored to have been spotted in the area in recent years. Adapted from the novel by author Julia Leigh, The Hunter follows Martin (Willem Dafoe) as he ventures out on his mission and arrives at the home of Lucy Armstrong (Frances O'Connor), who has been heavily depressed since her husband vanished into the surrounding wilderness months ago, and who now lives alone with her young daughter Sass (Morgana Davies) and taciturn son Bike (Finn Woodlock) - who have volunteered to host him in their home during the course of his research excursion. Shortly after arriving in Tasmania, Martin is accompanied to the edge of the wilds by Jack Mindy (Sam Neill), an old friend of Lucy's who has kept watch over her family and balks at the newcomer's decision to navigate the rough terrain unaccompanied. In the wake of a clash with hostile local loggers, Martin gradually begins to learn more about Lucy's family and develops a tenuous friendship with her two young children. But later, just as Martin begins to feel as if his goal is finally within reach, an unexpected development sends his mission into a tailspin and causes him to question the motivations behind capturing such a strange and majestic creature.
Super Reviewer
May 1, 2012
"Some Mysteries Should Never Be Solved"

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

This Australian film, filmed mostly in Tasmania, stars the great character actor Willem Dafoe (in a rare leading role) as Martin David, the title character. David is engaged by a multinational corporation to track down the last surviving "Tasmanian Tiger" so that they may have exclusive rights to its DNA. David must do this under the noses of environmentalists trying to stop deforestation and the locals whose jobs and livelihoods rely on it. Masquerading as a scientist doing research, Martin finds himself quartered at the house of a local activist's widow (Frances O'Connor) and her two children (Morgana Davies and Finn Woodlock.) Slowly, he finds himself entwined in their lives and finds a disturbing connection between his current employer and the late activist. Martin's contact in the community (Sam Neill) is wary of their growing relationship and sets things in motion that will have a devastating impact on all involved.

This is a beautiful, exciting film with nuanced performances from all the players. Dafoe's character doesn't say much, but his cragged face is as expressive a tool as his voice. Lengthy scenes are often dialogue-free, letting the surroundings and Martin's actions speak for themselves in a visual language. The juvenile performers are quite good, and Sam Neill is a welcome presence in any film. Part character study, part eco-thriller, the film does not beat you over the head with its environmental message. It manages to present somewhat of a balanced view of the debate between economy and environment (at least with regards to the problems of the locals. Multinational Corporations are ALWAYS evil.) PETA may take exception to Martin's final actions with regards to his original assignment, but after some thought they might be hard pressed to come up with any better solution. It's the kind of film that leads to great discussion and debate afterwards.
Super Reviewer
February 4, 2012
An extroadinary and superb triumph. An instant classic. Director, Daniel Nettheim crafts a brilliant, handsome and engaging work of art that leaves its mark. The first great movie of 2012. A patient, well-crafted, thought-provoking and exciting character study. An atmosferic, haunting, heart-breaking and beautifully told film filled with mystery, great locations and deeply moving drama. A rich in character, insightful, stunning and wickedly original movie. It`s the type of film that sets up a trap and once you see it you will willingly fall into it and goes out with a satisfying conclusion. Willem Dafoe gives one of the best performances of his career, his work is masterful giving great depth and surprising heart to his portrayel. Dafoe is unforgettable in the film and gives perhaps his next crowning work. Sam Neil is brilliant. Frances O`Connor is wonderful. A powerful, magnetic, moving and amazing film. It`s a truly absorbing and utterly breathtaking movie. A cinematic tour de force. I truly couldnt ask for anyhting more from this film, it was an intelligent, suspensful and wonderfully character drawn movie.
Super Reviewer
February 19, 2012
Filmed entirely in Tasmania and some of the scenery shot is quite tremendous, it really is the sparkle in this film, without it this it would be really quite average.

On the whole the film isn't exactly stunning, its an oddity really, Dafoe is sent into the outback of Tasmania to find the thought to be extinct Thylacine or Tasmanina Tiger after a few apparent sightings. He stays with a woman and her kids and helps get her life back on track and off medication due to her husband vanishing in the outback.
At the same time he of course gets very friendly with the woman and her kids, gets slightly tangled in local disputes between tree loggers and environmental groups against the loggers (of which the woman he stays with is part of) whilst also trying to solve the disappearance of her husband plus track a live Thylacine.

The problem with the film is it doesn't feel like its about anything in particular and it doesn't feel like there is any real conclusion at the end. Without trying to give the game away Dafoe does achieve his goals but doesn't do anything about it, he discovers what happens to the woman's husband but seems to do nothing, we're not quite sure exactly why the company hes working for wants him to find a Thylacine and at the end he does something which doesn't seem right, you don't know wether your on his side with his decision.

Dafoe is suppose to be a hunter, he tracks and survives in the wild, this we know, but seeing him roam the outback setting nasty steel traps and shooting mammals doesn't really sit right with me, he's suppose to be the 'hero' of the film looking after a lone woman and her kids but he doesn't really do anything other than kill animals and set traps, are we suppose to root for Dafoe's character?

The acting is superb with Dafoe and good old Sam Neill on form, the kids play their parts very well too but the plot is strange and jumbled and for lovers of wildlife it isn't quite what you expect. Well filmed, well crafted with lovely location work and a pretty real looking Tasmania Tiger in the finale (you know he finds it before you even begin to watch) but it seems down beat overall.
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2012
Story-wise, this had me hooked before I even started watching it. A man goes on the hunt for one of the rarest animals on Earth, is played by the brilliant Willem Dafoe, and somehow ends up meeting another favourite actor of mine: the respectable Sam Neill. So whatever the calibre of the film per se, it would always have that to its favor. Disappointingly, however, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Not that I was hoping for the movie event of the year, but it's just that the trailer promised for a little more than I received. While the acting overall is good, any talent they have is squandered on an uninspired script. Consequently, all the great and intriguing mystery that surrounds the Tasmanian Tiger, isn't utilized nor explored to its full potential. It was also a little weird to hear Sam Neill speak in a heavy Australian accent. It's not that he isn't convincing, but I'm just used to thinking of him as Dr. Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park movies (a role I hope he'll be returning to in the upcoming fourth film). Anyway, even though there are no rampaging dinosaurs in this to elevate the action, the lush and stunning scenery is not unlike that of said adventures. At least it kept the eyes from getting drowsy, when other components of the film missed the mark. So to summarize: An adequately entertaining mystery-thriller that tickles the imagination. Just not quite exciting enough to be worth more than a one-time rent.
Super Reviewer
½ October 8, 2011
'The Hunter'. A patient, beautifully paced character study set against the majestic Tasmanian wilderness.

Willem Dafoe is outstanding as a methodical hunter that becomes increasingly conflicted.
Super Reviewer
½ July 15, 2012
It's ironic that Australia's most well known film-maker is Baz Luhrmann as his overblown theatrical style is in stark conflict to the subtlety and ambiguity favored by the majority of his compatriots. Luhrmann aside, Australians seem incapable of making bad films. Nettheim's debut is quintessentially Antipodean, dealing as it does with the conflict between man and nature. In the same way that even the most atheistic of Europeans suffer a subconscious form of Catholic guilt, Australians seem haunted by a sense of not belonging to their adopted environment, at least if their films are to be believed.
Dafoe starts out as a clinical and calm professional but upon arrival in the stunning environment of Tasmania his cold exterior begins to fade and he starts to question his motivations. He has been arranged to board with O'Connor, a frail woman who lives with her two young children and has been numbed by medication ever since her husband disappeared. As Dafoe gets closer to the three he realises the patriarch's disappearance was no coincidence and he may be about to suffer the same fate.
Sam Neill gives a great low key performance as a would be suitor of O'Connor who may or may not be trustworthy. Dafoe is aging like a good cheese and this is his best turn since 1992's "Light Sleeper". It's the stunning yet foreboding landscape of Tasmania which is the real star though. Nettheim shoots it like a haunted house, half-glimpsed movements in bushes and crackling twigs lending an air of unseen menace.
The movie is based on a novel by Julia Leigh who wrote and directed the highly impressive "Sleeping Beauty" but it's essentially a remake of "The Third Man" with Dafoe as Joseph Cotten, O'Connor as Alida Valli and a Tasmanian Devil as Orson Welles. Like Leigh, Nettheim has proved with his debut that he's a film-maker of some promise.
Super Reviewer
½ April 29, 2012
In "The Hunter," Martin David(Willem Dafoe) has been hired to find the long thought extinct Tasmanian Tiger and to bring back organ and other samples. With news slowly getting out about its existence, the clock is ticking, even as he refuses any assistance in the form of a partner. At the site in Australia, he finds the guesthouse seriously lacking in amenities like hot water or electricity, but cannot find anywhere else convenient to stay due to a conflict between loggers and environmentalists. Reluctantly, Martin does accept the help of Jack Mindy(Sam Neill) as local guide.

To start, "The Hunter" has a certain underlying tension throughout that has less to do with Martin's quest, than with the aforementioned conflict. Both sides have valid points in their arguments in this film whose nuances allow it to sidestep any cliches in the story. While the loggers have worries about their jobs, the environmentalists are protecting the Tasmanian forest that quite possibly has unimaginable animals whose habitats are threatened. As such, the film captures the beautiful scenery wonderfully. While Martin simply wants to live a solitary existence of high culture, for which he does his odious job for, he cannot help but affect that environment or the humans he is forced to interact with. Plus, the movie actually makes excellent use of a classic rock song for a change, proving that Frances O'Connor knows how to make a great entrance.
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
½ August 11, 2012
** out of ****

Don't you hate it when a film grabs your attention and keeps it within its firm grasp for about an hour, and then just lets it go as if it were nothing; no big deal? Well, if you hate when that happens, it would be in your best interest to stay far, far away from Daniel Nettheim's "The Hunter". Adapted from a 1999 novel by Julia Leigh, everything about the movie looks good on paper, but most of those things have been translated rather awkwardly for the screen. The film is a bloated mess unsure of what it wants to be or where it wants to go, and yet it manages to keep us interested for a while. Perhaps because in films of a similar style, we're expecting some kind of payoff for the slow pacing in the form of a deep character study; but this film has too much on its mind. And in this case, too much can get in the way of just about everything else.

The hunter who goes by the name of Martin David (Willem Dafoe) is hired by a biotech company called Red Leaf to go to Tasmania so that he may bring back organ and tissue samples from a species said to be long extinct, the Tasmanian Tiger. He will temporarily stay at the home of a few complete strangers; two children - a boy (Finn Woodlock) and a girl (Morgana Davies) - and their mother Lucy (Frances O'Conner), who has been feeling ill as of late. The kids take no time in warming up to Martin, although he's got work to do. He must assemble his weapons and his traps (which are apparently illegal in Tasmania) and then head out into the woods to find the tiger. He will spend twelve days at a time in the wilderness and then return to the house.

He is lead into the woods by tour guide Jack Mindy (Sam Neill), who has a close relationship with Lucy's kids. Jack offers to remain with Martin for the remainder of the journey, but he prefers to work alone. We are treated to some truly beautiful scenes that highlight his survival as he must kill any edible wildlife to keep from going hungry and try to find the tiger, at all costs. This should have been the main plot of the film, since Martin will continue to venture back into the wilderness until he finds his rare animal, but instead we're given a few lame sub-plots to trudge through to get to the good stuff. For instance, Red Leaf gets directly involved with the task at hand; and Martin goes through a sort of transformation while bonding with Lucy and her kids.

This could have made for an interesting character study, but we've seen this type before and "The Hunter" doesn't really do anything unique with Martin himself. As I said, the sub-plots merely get in the way of the film's main point, and I'm not even entirely sure what that was. It seems to aspire to be a character study, a taut wilderness thriller, and an evocative mood piece. It does manage to establish a very strong atmosphere, and the camerawork is absolutely stunning (capturing all the mysterious beauty of the Tasmanian wilderness and its wildlife), but by the time Martin had gone back into the woods for the second time, I was getting tired of the routine and just wanted the plot to get a move on. I like slow-moving and suspenseful movies; this simply isn't one.

But I'll give it points for trying. Dafoe is about as brilliant as he always is, with the plot preventing him from getting the most out of his talents (although you can't deny he has a riveting screen presence). This is his movie, and he skillfully commands every scene he's in...which is pretty much every one. Character studies tend to focus on one character and disregard the rest; but this one doesn't even have a well-developed central character. Therefore, it's left feeling somewhat cold and distant; there isn't much emotional resonance, not even in the ending which possesses a certain whimsical quality, and I never found myself caring for the character(s). This is a well-crafted film but hardly a good one (in my opinion). People will probably refer to it as pointless and pretentious although I'll go on record saying that it isn't really either of those things if you think about it. But it does get ahead of itself with its ego. It wants to say more than it actually can, whilst giving us some pretty shit to look at. That's nice, but not nice enough.
Super Reviewer
April 8, 2012
Quietly told and methodically paced, in the style of The American, but one with a strong script, realistic characters, and excellent character development. The story becomes secondary to the characters themselves, their actions and motivations seem appropriately organic, this is some of William Dafoe's best work. It's beautifully shot, using the Tasmanian wilderness' vast and mysterious nature to help create the proper atmosphere of the film. Overall, a very solid independent drama/quiet thriller.

4/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
½ April 3, 2012
Wiliam Defoe headlines this Eco-thriller with a excellent performance as a hired mercenary on the hunt for a Tasmanian Tiger.
With a beautiful Tasmania as a center piece, this brooding adaptation is quiet and moribund, perhaps conveying the lack of redemption for the players involved.

Somehow it lacks the aggression it promises as the movie is building up which as well may be the chink in the script.

However, in the end a very good film.
Super Reviewer
November 11, 2011
An intriguing Mystery, Provoking Thriller, Beautifully crafted and emotionally breath taking. It reminds me of the crazy ideas I though about when I was 13 or 14 a young age when a lot of rumours of Tazmanian Tigers would be seen or captured. Watching this made me consider those dreams fantasy even if theres competition it should just stay a secrect or better off extinct. Its a film highly recomend to see the power of human ambition and nature's scent.
Super Reviewer
November 27, 2011
Full Review Coming Soon!
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