The Hunter

Last Tasmanian Tiger

         
 

05 April 2012| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Respectably well-meaning and attempts a different kind of story, but it doesn’t quite work. The Hunter opens with Willem Dafoe waiting indefinitely at a posh Parisian hotel, waiting for his latest hush-hush assignment to come in. Dafoe has played a hitman before (“Light Sleeper”) and so you think it’s one of those movies. But he turns out to be a well-paid wilderness hunter bankrolled by big corporations, or something, it’s murky. He is dispatched to Tasmania, Australia to capture what could be the last Tasmanian Tiger. The region locals are xenophobes, made up of the kind of despoiled and uncultivated types you find in movies about the poor Deep South, only it’s Australia. The movie makes a big deal about the local unrest due to joblessness, but it’s that rare animal we’re interested in. Unconvincing and distracting supporting characters permeate the story.

It’s difficult for Dafoe’s mercenary character Martin to get lodging, but he apprehensively boards at a cabin that contains too busy-nosey kids and a mom who is always asleep from over-medication. The father went missing some time ago, possibly while out hunting for that nearly extinct animal. When the mom wakes up, she is played by the lovely Frances O’Connor (“A.I.,” “Mansfield Park”). But the problem is exactly that. She is too attractive and articulate to be believable amongst a community of beer-swilling philistines.

There are hints that the mom has an attraction for this mysterious hunter. But the Dafoe character suggests, though does not solidify, that he is a self-obsessed and impassive loner who commits solely to the job. Martin is supposed to be out in the wilderness for weeks hunting this animal, setting traps. But he keeps coming back to civilization. But for what reason? Most of the time it felt as if the answer was just so the character could interact in innocuous subplots. One of the two children is mute, and needs a daddy figure, for instance.

The movie is very well directed during the dialogue-free Outback scenes. Even while I felt “The Hunter” wasn’t a successful film, I felt gratitude for the scenery. The filmmakers went through a lot of trouble to get photography of these locations. Usually bad films are devoid of anything redeemable. That wasn’t entirely the case here.

100 Minutes. Rated R.

SUSPENSE-THRILLER / MOTHER NATURE / LATE NIGHT THRILLS

Film Cousins: “Never Cry Wolf” (1983); “Alive” (1993); “The Edge” (1997); “Touching the Void” (2003).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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