The Hunter (Daniel Nettheim, 2011)
Clive Barker's Sacrament is one of my favorite novels. Among Barker's best creations is the Killer of Last Things, a man whose destiny is to travel the world finding the final examples of species on the planet and driving them to extinction. Jacob, the Killer of Last Things, is an egalitarian; animal, vegetable, or mineral, he will wipe it out. On the other hand, there is Martin David, the protagonist of Julia Leigh's novel The Hunter. Martin, if that is his real name, is a specialist, a killer for hire who has been sent to Tasmania by a biotech corporation to hunt the legendary, possibly mythical, Tasmanian tiger. If it does exist, it is the last of its kind in the world.
The Tasmanian tiger is in fact extinct (though the last one ended its days in captivity; footage of it is shown during the film's title sequence). That does tend to cast a pall over things if you know it going in, and there's some crazy-conspiracist-theory stuff going on in this movie that truly stretches credibility (the corporation that hires Martin acts more like a shadow government than a multinational), but Willem Dafoe's performance, as is often the case, brings something to this movie it would not have otherwise had. While it's not in the same league as his should-have-gotten-an-Oscar turns in movies like To Live and Die in L.A. and Shadow of the Vampire, he does a very good job with a character who, to be successful, needed to be played very close to the vest. The supporting cast around him for the most part does a very good job as well, but Dafoe is the centerpiece here and the movie makes no bones about that. It is not without flaws, but is worth watching if you like your thrillers to deliver the goods over time. ***