Friday, April 6, 2012


Directed by Daniel Nettheim

Willem Dafoe - Martin David
Sam Neill - Jack Mindy
Frances O'Connor - Lucy Armstrong

     Martin, a mercenary, is sent from Europe by a mysterious biotech company to the Tasmanian wilderness on a hunt for the last Tasmanian tiger.

     Well here's a pairing of actors I just cannot pass on seeing together again, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill. Perfect match up to me. Just like seeing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat and how well they played off of each other, I'm hoping to see Dafoe and Neill do the same, as they did in Daybreakers. Neill who was underwhelming in Under The Mountain (my review can be seen here), though he has been slowly redeeming himself in Alcatraz thankfully, now add a constant actor with him and I think he has the right push to not call it in and act again.

     It will come as no surprise that Willem Dafoe, as Martin David, is the star of the film. There just something that Dafoe brings to every role that makes each character he portrays different and interesting. And it's true in The Hunter also. Dafoe brings a quiet unease to his role thanks to his wavering morals that change over the course of the film. Sam Neill, who plays the small but very pivotal role Jack Mindy, has made up for his misstep from a previous film, as you can tell he cares about the role he has in this one. From his suspensions, to his regret from what he has caused there is a visible sadness at the end and his inability to change what he has happened, the emotions you know Neill can do is there after all these years of being hidden. And it should be said that Dafoe and Neill play very well off each other when the two are in the same scene due to each one of them is judging the other one throughout the film.  The cast is rounded out by Frances O'Connor as Lucy Armstrong a widower who slowly comes back to life through the movie and Morgana Davies and Finn Woodlock as sister and brother Sass and Bike Armstrong. Woodlock has the most important role in the film as the quiet brother who sees Dafoe's character as a surrogate father.

     I'll go ahead and warn you that there will be spoilers coming up, as to really talk a little bit about the film you have to talk about what happens. When the film starts Martin David's character is describe as needing no one and Martin saying he works best alone. We also learn that he likes his belongings to be immaculately clean and very tidy and in order. This really is best shown when he reaches his lodgings in Tasmania and turns right around to find another to no avail.  This is when he meets the children of the family that lives where he is staying. While the hunt for the Tasmanian tiger is the backdrop for the story, the main story slowly shows through the script. The more time Martin spends with the family the more his cold exterior is warmed and he slowly starts to understand what he has lost after all the years being on his own. Even though he still goes out to track his target, he spends less time out in the wilderness and more time becoming a surrogate husband and father. This is shown in the way he handles finding the body of the senor Armstrong in the Tasmanian  wilds, who is shown as being shot in the head as the cause of his death. Martin instead of just telling the family that he found their father and husband decides to hide the evidence and truth to keep the family from being in more pain that they already are, as they are just starting to get over their grief thanks to Martin's help.More than anything, the story is about Martin discovering who he really is and what he will do to get to where he wants to be.

     There is a couple of problems with The Hunter though. The biggest one is how mother Lucy Armstrong is just nonchalant when she comes home to find her kids taking a bath when Martin is in the bathroom with them even though she hasn't met Martin until that moment in time. Though this really was the kids fault as they just jumped right in the bath with him and wouldn't leave even though Martin tried to get them to due to how their father taught them. Another is how the Lucy didn't once question why Jack Mindy kept her doped up for almost a year after her husband disappeared.Yet the moments the film really shines is when it's just Dafoe  in the wilderness. There is no talking in these scenes though all lot is learned during these scenes about Dafoe's character. This also has to do with the use of atmosphere and weather when in the wilds. This is shown the best when Martin finally finds what he was looking for and the choice he makes at this point. This is the only time it snows in the whole film and it represents Martin's heart at that moment in time as well as what he was forced to do before finding the Tasmanian tiger. Director Daniel Nettheim almost makes the wilderness a whole other character in the film as it was shot so beautifully and is one of the reasons to watch. While the film is a slow burn, Dafoe makes it watchable even when there is nothing going on except him lying on a rock in wait for his prey, though this also slows down the film more than it should. While not a amazing film, The Hunter is not horrible either, it's just stuck somewhere in the middle as so much more could have been done with it.

     This one is a double as the death ends two lives, yet brings to life something else.

     Dad says the fucking fucker is completely fucked.

     The Tasmanian Tiger, also known as the Tasmanian Wolf, thylacine or Thylacinus cynocephalus, the latter which is Greek for "dog-headed pouched one", is an extinct species of carnivorous marsupial. It is so called a Tasmanian Tiger because of the stripes on its back.

     An end title card reads: "Traps and snares are illegal in Tasmania".

      The source novel by  Julia Leigh, who is also a director, won the French Prix de l'Astrolabe Ettonants Voyageurs as well as a British Betty Trask Award. The book was also a New York Times notable book of its year as well as being short-listed for a number of literary prizes. It has been translated into nine languages and published in all major territories. This film was made 12 years after the movie's source book was first published in 1999.

      Willem Dafoe had to deal with leeches during production filming in the Tasmanian wilderness in Australia. In a media interview, he joked how he didn't lose any blood, ironic because his previous Australian film Daybreakers had been a vampire movie.

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