Though director Daniel Nettheim’s "The Hunter" seems like an action-potboiler from the start, it trades in thrills that are more contemplative than visceral. Martin David (a brilliant, as always, Willem Dafoe) is an independent hunter, sent by an anonymous organization to collect the genetic material of a desperately endangered Tasmanian tiger. However, once he arrives at his location, human interests and connections dominate his thought as much of the tiger itself (the film is easily comparable to "The American" for its use of a genre set-up to achieve what feel more like art house aims.
The thoughtful take is only aided by Nettheim’s compositions; which capture the nature of the area with the same indifference as Dafoe’s character. While this DVD copy clearly can’t hold a candle to the theatrical presentation, the video quality here is more than adequate in recreating the films colorful texture.
Many special features are included - for those who want to get deeper into the story, there is a director commentary on both the film and on a number of deleted scenes. In addition, you have the requisite trailers and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
"The Hunter" works for one particular reason: Willem Dafoe. When a film stretches itself out like this; finding one small plot and mining it for every possible moment of emotional detail, you need a great actor to allow those moments to breathe, to live, to exist. Dafoe is such an actor.