Al Pacino is introducing 1970’s Nazis to all of his “little friends” in the new Prime Video series Hunters.
Pacino, in one of his most laid-back performances to date, is Meyer Offerman the Bruce Wayne of a clandestine group of vigilante Nazi hunters. Instead of roaring “Hooah!” he is more of a soft-spoken parental figure here…who occasionally slits the throats of the bad guys.
The group itself doesn’t have flashy costumes or snappy code names like The Justice League, The X-Men or The Avengers. They are just simply The Hunters. They do appear in their own very cool animated movie posters though as they are introduced with Dick Dale’s iconic Misirlou playing in the background. That is not the only nod to Quentin Tarantino either who seems to have really inspired Hunters creator David Weil.
The Hunters themselves are:
- Sister Harriet (Kate Mulvany), a former MI6 agent in charge of logistics and planning.
- Lonny Flash (Josh Radnor) is the “Jewish Robert Redford”, a famous Hollywood actor and a master of disguise.
- Vietnam soldier Joe Torrance (Louis Ozawa).
- Roxy Jones (Tiffany Boone), a counterfeiter and forger.
- Holocaust survivors Murray (Saul Rubinek from Billions and Warehouse 13) and Mindy Markowitz (Taxi and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Carol Kane), are married tech wizards and weapons experts.
And last but not least is teenager, rookie member Jonah Heidelbaum played by Logan Lerman. Lerman was the title character in those Percy Jackson movies from a few years back . He acts as the group’s code breaker and hacker. Jonah’s grandmother was murdered right in front of him and he is seeking vengeance. Wracked by guilt for freezing up and not rescuing his grandmother Jonah begins relentlessly tracking the killer. He is so desperate for clues that he resorts to trading drugs to the local gang who controls the crime, streets in his neighbourhood.
During his quest to find his grandmother’s killer Jonah uncovers her greatest secret and runs afoul of a former Nazi officer and The Hunters too. He and The Hunters soon learn of a plot to establish a Fourth Reich in America. Behind the scheme is the loathsome Colonel (Lena Olin), whose agents have been quietly infiltrating the top echelons of power in America since the end of the Second World War and waiting for the right moment to strike and seize power.
Although he wants to exact revenge for his grandmother’s murder Jonah is torn about how justice should be served. Jonah didn’t grow up under Nazi rule or in their camps so even though he is well aware of the horrendous crimes against his people he doesn’t necessarily think that executing Nazis in cold blood is the right thing to do. His humanity and compassion causes waves with the other Hunters and often throws a wrench in their plans such as when he takes pity on a Nazi officer offering him a glass of water after he has been brutally tortured by The Hunters. The Nazi of course uses Jonah’s kindness against him.
Still, Jonah doesn’t want to become a monster to thwart the monsters. It is this battle within him that is at the core of Hunters.
While The Hunters are uncovering the Colonel’s plan, FBI agent Millie Morris (Jerrika Hinton) is investigating a series of murders which leads her to cross paths with The Hunters complicating matters even further.
Produced by Jordan Peele and his company Monkeypaw Productions, the series doesn’t shy away from presenting how truly ugly and repulsive hate in all its forms can be. Present day cruelties in 1977 are shown as well as flashbacks to brutal concentration camp atrocities including one officer constructing a diabolical human chess board using the prisoners as pieces. The prisoners are forced to kill each other when pieces are captured bringing a whole new meaning to the word “checkmate”.
Hunters is what would happen if Quentin Tarantino would ever made a full-on superhero movie and be aware that it has more in common with The Watchmen, Daredevil and Deadpool than any of the Ant-Man or Spider-Man films.
There is a definite issue with the tone of Hunters. While the racist acts themselves are depicted with stark realism, the tone is very cartoonish. The Nazis are the sort you would find in a Golden Age Captain America comic or some James Bond movies. They are bombastic, ludicrous personalities who bellow things like “The world is mine!” or “Nothing can stop me not even death!” while shaking their fists in the air. This constant shift between melodrama and seriousness is confounding and may make some viewers somewhat uneasy about what they are watching even though the characters and story are solid.