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Film / The Hunter

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Some mysteries should never be solved.

The Hunter is a 2011 Australian Drama Thriller film starring Willem Dafoe. Dafoe plays Martin David, a professional mercenary who is hired by a mysterious organisation known as Red Leaf. He has been sent to Tasmania to illegally hunt down the last remaining Tasmanian tiger, intending to collect DNA samples, due to the alleged properties of the tiger's venom.

During his time in Tasmania, he stays with a strange family, consisting of two children, Sass and Bike, and their mother, Lucy (Frances O'Connor), who appears to be asleep most of the time. Their father, Jarrah, disappeared in the bush several months before. They are cared for by a family friend, Jack Mindy (Sam Neill), who also offers to guide Martin around the forest.

Martin poses as a scientist looking to research the Tasmanian devil. He spends much of the film in the Tasmanian wilderness laying traps for the elusive creature. However, things get ugly when the local townsfolk begin to suspect that he's up to something...


Not related to Steve McQueen's last movie The Hunter (1980).

This film provides examples of:

  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Martin finds Jarrah's remains and holds the skull like this.
  • Anti-Hero: Martin is a pragmatic antihero.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Tasmanian tigers likely did not have "toxins" in their saliva that would be useful to anyone. It could be Hand Waved that we don't know everything about Tasmanian tigers simply because they weren't studied enough while they were alive. Whether or not certain animals are venomous (lorises, Komodo dragons, etc.) is also actually a common point of contention in the toxicology sphere.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: While the hunting scenes are grueling the film would probably be a pretty safe PG-13 if it wasn't for a liberal sprinkling of F words.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The bar that Martin finds is full of loggers who aren't big fans of "greenies" and they give Martin a hard time thinking he's a scientist. Downplayed in the end as the loggers aren't really that bad. The worst thing they do is shoot into the air to intimidate people.
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  • Bear Trap: Martin sets many of these to catch the Tasmanian tiger.
  • Bookends: At the start of the film, Martin is told by his employer to "See the sights", while waiting for work. At the end, Martin calls Red Leaf to inform them the tiger is gone, saying "Don't bother looking for me. I'm going to see the sights."
  • Chekhov's Gun: Jarrah's metal water bottle, the steel traps.
    • Martin leaving his coordinates with the family whenever he goes out.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The second man that sits in on the meeting Martin has with the employer comes back in the third act to forcibly finish Martin's job.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Done casually by an eight year old girl:
    Sass: Dad says the fucking fucker's fucked!
  • Cute Mute: Bike never speaks throughout the entire film.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When Martin finally comes face to face with the Thylacine, instead of trying to escape it lowers it’s head and appears to allow itself to be shot.
  • Green Aesop: A part of Martin's main character arc. As Martin gets closer to the family he also begins to empathize with the environment and distance himself from his mission. When he does eventually kill the tiger it is not to complete his mission but to prevent Red Leaf from getting their hands on it.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Martin, arguably, as he begins to care more for the family he is staying with than his mission and then betrays the organization he works for.
  • Last of His Kind: The Tasmanian Tiger, allegedly.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The look on Martin's face right after he shoots the tiger.
  • Never Found the Body: Jarrah. Subverted when Martin does eventually find his remains.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The company that hires Martin is called Red Leaf. Red as in blood. Leaf being a symbol for nature.
  • Scenery Porn: The Tasmanian wilderness provides plenty.
  • Shoot the Tiger
  • Shown Their Work: At one point Jack asks Martin if the Tasmanian devils he saw were healthy. This is likely a reference to the real life devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) that is running rampant in wild devil populations.
  • Snow Means Death: While it is clearly getting colder beforehand, it doesn't start snowing until Martin's confrontation with (and subsequent shooting of) the Red Leaf agent. The snow continues during Martin's final hunt and killing of the tiger.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's never explained who damaged Martin's trap or who set up the camera trap.

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