Movie review: The Hunter

By Columbus Alive
From the May 10, 2012 edition

I’m always leery of a movie touted as being “from the producers” of another (probably superior) movie. “The Hunter” is a prime example.

The Aussie import advertises a producer link to “Animal Kingdom,” a crime drama often referred to as the Australian “Goodfellas.”

Despite that loose connection and a nice pedigree, “Hunter” doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Willem Dafoe plays a mercenary hired by a biotech firm to hunt and kill the Tasmania tiger, a wolf-like creature long believed extinct. While staying in the Tasmanian wilderness, he houses with a family and develops an unexpected bond.

Based on a novel, the film’s setup is highly intriguing. A mysterious and powerful company hiring a mercenary to kill the last of a presumed extinct species? I’m in.

Adding to the intrigue is Dafoe in the lead role. For a movie that leans on him a lot, his top-notch brooding simmers the pot more and more. And toss in some truly gorgeous cinematography.

But all of the buildup doesn’t lead to as juicy a payoff as I’d expected. As it dives more deeply into metaphor, some of that setup feels wasted.

In the end, it goes for a heart-shot. I wanted one to the head.