A mercenary is hired to hunt the last living Tasmanian Tiger in the
wilderness, where he bonds with a widow and her two children.
The Hunter (2011)
Directed by Daniel Nettheim
Written by Alice Addison
Starring Willem Dafoe, Frances O'Connor, Sam Neill,
Morgana Davies, Finn Woodlock, Callan Mulvey
Based on the novel by Julia Leigh
The Hunter was a very misleading movie, with the poster and synopsis convincing me that this was a kill or be killed action thriller on par with The Most Dangerous Game. Instead, it's more of a soul-searching drama with all the mercenary stuff being pushed into the background. It's not a bad movie, it just doesn't live up to what I expected. It contains a number of strong performances, most notably from Willem Dafoe. I wish that a lot of the proposed subplots, like the jobless workers wishing harm on the family or the entire motive of the enigmatic Red Leaf corporation, could've been explored thoroughly. It's not good to leave an intriguing story on the cutting room floor and focus on a predictable one.
Willem Dafoe plays Martin David, a mercenary with a heart of gold who is hired by a shady corporation to hunt down the last Tasmanian Tiger, an animal that is widely thought to be extinct. The film brings up that the corporation might want the animal to make a weapon out of it or maybe clone it. It's not very clear why. However, while hunting the animal, Martin becomes a sort of surrogate father figure for two children whose father disappeared in the same wilderness he's hunting in. This whole story was painfully predictable, except for the ending which came out of nowhere. Still, we all knew that he was gonna choose the family over the job. They always do.
I'd hoped that this was a crazy action thriller starring a mentally deranged Willem Dafoe. Instead, it deals with family and loyalty, which would be fine had the film not been billed as an action/adventure. The Hunter is not a bad movie, provided you know what you're getting into beforehand. I was disappointed, but if I watched it again knowing what I know now, it would probably be pretty good.