Monday, December 16, 2013

Quick Cut Review - "The Hunter"


Directed by:  Daniel Nettheim
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Sam Neil and Frances O'Connor
Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes  
Release Date: October 6, 2011


There is only one reason to see The Hunter, and that reason is Willem Dafoe. Sure, the story of a mythical tiger long thought extinct living in Tasmania Australia seems intriguing, but this unnecessarily mysterious film only succeeds because of the standout performance by Dafoe who plays the hunter hired by some evil corporation to hunt and catch the elusive Tasmanian Tiger in order to obtain its biological secrets.

Dafoe plays the character with just the right amount of heft so that we understand immediately what type of man he is. Watching him scour the beautiful Australian countryside as he learns the lay of the land and begins to unravel a string of mysteries surrounding the disappearance of the previous hunter, the nosy and very inhospitable locals, the missing husband of Frances O'Connor's single mother of two and Sam Neil's very suspicious local company man, the film becomes an exhaustive experience despite moving at a glacial pace.


If not for Dafoe's ability to command the screen with a simple look during his mostly dialog free performance, the film would have collapsed under the weight of so many loose ends that for the most part are never given a satisfying resolution. While most viewers will agree that the majority of the film is interesting and simply gorgeous to look at (and very slow), the one area that will likely divide people is the films final act which has some out of left field developments that you will either embrace or feel betrayed by.

Regardless though, with Dafoe at the helm and a mostly strong (but wasted) supporting cast, the film still garners enough good will to earn a recommendation. It won't set the world on fire and will most likely fade from memory quicker than it should, but it still works as a unique mystery thriller set against the stunning Australian backdrop and as a more than passable character based film that has a fantastic turn by Dafoe at the helm to help alleviate any of the more problematic areas of the film.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

Fans of Dafoe are in for a treat, as are any who appreciate grand vistas and sweeping shots of beautiful countrysides. But as a film with a story, it comes up lacking and it never comes together the way that it should. The final act only strengthens the idea that there was very little emotional drama to reel us in as an unexpected event occurs that seems to only to happen to try and illicit some sort of emotional response from us, but instead only makes us that much more emotionally distant from the proceedings.

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