Exhibiting a montage of storylines, perhaps a little too many for its own comfort, The Hunter tells the tale of mercenary Martin, sent to hunt down the last remaining Tasmanian tiger.
Thought to be extinct by all but a few, the Tasmanian tiger is desired by bio-medical organisation, Red Leaf, for purposes initially unknown. Sending the crème de la crème of mercenaries, Martin embarks on his mission to Australia.
Posing as a scientist from a university, Martin immediately encounters hostility from all directions. Even the lack of basic commodities at his lodgings suggests he should be elsewhere, and this does not go unnoticed. However, a man on a mission is not a man to be inhibited, and Willem Dafoe does an excellent job at playing the unhindered Martin.
The mercenary’s lodging is a farmhouse: lived in by two amiable children and their mother, their father having recently gone missing. It is within this farmhouse that the hard exterior of Martin begins to soften, and to the children’s delight we see the blurred outline of a surrogate father appear.
It is the children’s affable nature and quirky ways that draws any humour into the film, and it is Sam Neil’s character, Jack Mindy, who brings a few dry one-liners.
Jack Mindy’s overall confusing role neither helps nor hinders the storyline; instead it rather backs up the idea that there is conceivably too much going on, without fully explaining the characters motives, or any background goings on.
However, witnessing Dafoe lay steel traps with his bare hands, and in another breath, watching him tenderly bathing the children’s mother as she is unable to do so herself, makes for entertaining viewing.
Also worth mentioning are the stunning views and picturesque landscapes of Tasmania, often accompanied with an operatic soundtrack. Although a cliché (lonely mercenaries are often depicted playing opera music to themselves), the accompaniment of this genre of music adds to the intensity of the film.
Whilst the film is rather back and forth, and with the interjections of other issues, the stability of Dafoe’s acting is notable, and allows the audience to follow him with fairly little interference.
Despite the storyline going up in flames at the end, the symbolic finale is very fitting, and adds a final, very unexpected emotional touch leaving the audience guessing a little as to what intention any of the characters had.
The Hunter is released nationwide on 6th July 2012.
Watch the trailer for The Hunter here: