The Hunter Examiner.com Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello
People jaded by negative emotional experiences often disconnect themselves from all areas of life, and undergo stages of isolation, loneliness and grief. But they can find redemption in the most unexpected places and from surprising relationships. This is certainly the case with several of the main characters in the new action drama ‘The Hunter,’ which is now playing at select New York theaters. Though the characters were initially reluctant to embrace change, they came to realize that life doesn’t have to be as vulnerable as they perceived.
‘The Hunter’ follows the title character, skilled mercenary Martin (played by Willem Dafoe), whose last major assignment before retiring is to search for a Tasmanian tiger still believed to be living in the wilderness. While the species has been listed as extinct since the 1930s, an anonymous biotech company, led by the callous Jack (portrayed by Sam Neill), wants Martin to find the tiger so that it can use the animal’s genetic material.
Martin arrives in Tasmania posing as a scientist, and stays with a family, including reclusive mother Lucy Armstrong (played by Frances O’Connor); outgoing daughter Sass (portrayed by Morgana Davies); and mute son Bike (played by Finn Woodlock), who are dealing with their father having gone missing. While Martin’s usually a loner, he becomes increasingly close to the family, which complicates his deadly mission.
Director Daniel Nettheim effortlessly brought ‘The Hunter’s emotional story of the ever-conflicted Martin to the screen from the 1999 novel of the same name by Julia Leigh. Through the unforgiving nature of Martin’s tough attitude, initial unwillingness to connect with anyone and determination to find the tiger, the film features a strong emotional arc between him and the other characters. While he’s determined to finish his assignment without forming any emotional bonds, Martin shows his vulnerability when he unexpectedly begins to feel protective over his host family.
Dafoe was the perfect choice to play Martin in ‘The Hunter,’ as he not only connected with his co-stars, but also ponders the assignment as his last chance of redemption. While he’s intelligent and determined to successfully complete his mission in the Australian wilderness, audiences worldwide will instantly see his resourceful, compassionate nature. He believably comes to care about helping Lucy overcome her depression over her missing husband, and act as a positive role model for Sass and Bike.
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