When it’s over, Willem Dafoe is Martin, a mercenary who has lived a solo life. He poses as a scientist when he takes on a job in the Tasmanian wilderness in hunt for the elusive Tasmanian Tiger, the last of its kind. Accustomed to his solitary lifestyle, Martin struggles with his feelings for Lucy (Frances O’Conner) and her two children, Sass (Morgana Davies) and Bike (Finn Woodlock), the family who offers him lodging. What starts out as a hunt for an animal's DNA that may offer possible bio-weaponry turns into a soul searching journey of right and wrong. Based on the book by Julia Leigh, The Hunter is beautifully shot on location, offering viewers a sense of splendor, while capturing the harshness of the landscape, and metaphorically, the harshness of people. Dafoe is fantastic. He is completely believable as a man who embodies loneliness, regret, and a deep longing for things he does not feel he deserves. There are many holes unfilled in the plot, which hurts the story, but because the story focuses mainly on Martin’s journey, the holes seem small. I think more information about Red Leaf is necessary. This is the bio-tech firm that hires Martin, who represents the greed and villainy in the story. Also, I need to understand why Martin chooses such a solitary life. Did something happen in his past? A flip through Leigh’s book may help. The ending is a surprise, and I do not want to spoil it for anyone who may want to see the film. It is not the ending I had expected, but fitful and haunting. There are no bells and whistles in this film. No fancy special effects. No elaborate fight choreography. It’s man vs man.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5