Plot: What’s it about?
Martin David (Willem Dafoe) is one of the world’s finest mercenaries, a man with immense skill and intense dedication. His latest task is to hunt down an unusual target, one that might not even exist. The hunt is not for a political leader or other prominent person however, instead he is to track down an animal. A biotech operation seeks the genetic material of the Tasmanian tiger, which is presumed to be extinct. He arrives under the guise of a professor and takes residence in a farmhouse, where he meets a small family in a tragic situation. Lucy (Frances O’Connor) and her children are coping with the loss of her husband, who was killed in the brutal wilderness. While Martin is a stoic man who keeps to himself, he slowly begins to open up to the family, though he remains focused on his task at hand. As he starts to hunt down the elusive tiger, he also becomes closer with the family, but how will Martin’s unusual ventures be resolved?
While there is a supporting cast present, The Hunter is a one man show. Willem Dafoe carries almost the entire movie on his back, so his performance makes or breaks the experience. As usual, Dafoe is able to deliver a dynamic performance that really captures the character and makes The Hunter a great movie. He is able to convey the weariness the role demands, but also the razor sharp edge needed, not a simple task. The level of loneliness and isolation within his performance is stunning, which drives the film and makes the character seem so real. The rest of the cast is quite good as well, with Frances O’Conner as a stand out, but Dafoe is the main attraction here. This is at heart a character study almost, with a focus on characters and plot, so don’t expect an intense, action packed battle for survival. I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Hunter, but it was a terrific movie that features one of the best performances I’ve seen of late. So if you’re a fan of Dafoe’s work or just love to watch fine performances, The Hunter is a movie you will not want to miss.
Video: How does it look?
The Hunter is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen. The film’s visual design is reserved, but this transfer still a knockout. The colors don’t pop off the screen as in some movies, as the film uses a muted, natural spectrum. Even so, the hues look great and just as intended. The detail is impressive, especially in the wilderness scenes, where the myriad of textures are on showcase and so much depth is visible. So while the visual design steers toward a less flashy style, the movie still looks excellent and the visual design is upheld in fine form.
Audio: How does it sound?
This DTS HD 5.1 soundtrack handles the film’s sound design with ease. Most of the movie is quiet and driven by vocals, all of which sound crisp and clear. The front channels are active and add some light atmosphere, but this isn’t an explosive film. A few scenes ramp up the tension however and in those cases, the surrounds light up as expected. Well crafted, subtle tracks like this one don’t always earn the credit they deserve, but this is a terrific soundtrack. This disc also includes English and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
In addition to a four part behind the scenes look and some deleted scenes, we have audio comments from director Daniel Nettheim and producer Vincent Sheehan. This disc also includes the film’s theatrical trailer.