Movie Review: "The Hunt"
After having been mysteriously knocked out, twelve people wake up in the woods with gags in their mouths, and locks keeping the gags in place. Confused, the twelve individuals stumble upon a strange box in a clearing in the woods. The box contains a rack of weapons, which seem to be for them to defend themselves. However, as soon as they start grabbing weapons, they begin being fired upon from somewhere in the distance. The surviving members of the group flee into the woods, and now have to make sense of going on. How did they get here, and who is trying to kill them?
These are questions that they need answered, but there is one among them that is only concerned with survival. Crystal (Betty Gilpin) was formerly in the military. She can handle herself in combat scenarios just like this one, but even she may have no chance of getting out alive. There are deadly traps around every corner, and mysterious hunters coming after them with deadly force. If they have any hope of survival, they will need to be smarter than their hunters, they will need to be ruthless, and they will need an incredible amount of luck.
The Pros & Cons
The Start & POV Characters (+5pts)
Too On the Nose (-3pts)
The Action (+5pts)
One Year Earlier & The Group (-4pts)
Athena & The Reason (-5pts)
Pro: The Start & POV Characters (+5pts)
I liked the beginning of this movie a lot, as the filmmakers wasted very little screen time getting to the action. We did not get introductions to each character, and we did not need to. The filmmakers threw us right in it, which made it really easy to relate to the protagonists’ confusion. Starting the story this way prevented it from having a boring start, as it peaked my interest and allowed for the action to start pretty quickly. I also really liked the varying point-of-view character, as it made the beginning of the movie feel both exciting and unpredictable. The movie was not perfect, but the beginning of the movie was great.
Con: Too On the Nose (-3pts)
I liked the idea that the filmmakers introduced for this movie, but I thought they were too on the nose about it. It was refreshing to see the role reversal of political views between the hunters and the hunted, but I think it would have benefited from being more subtle. Usually, movies vilify the far right, and while the filmmakers went another way with this one, I thought that they got too political here. Rather than just naturally and subtly showing the political views of each side, watching this movie was like having the filmmakers forcing the characters’ political views down my throat with a plunger. Putting aside my own political views, I liked who the antagonists were and who the protagonists were, because it was different. However, the politics felt like they were too on the nose and too unnatural for this story, which meant that it was far less impactful than the filmmakers wanted it to be.
Pro: The Action (+5pts)
There were two types of action in this movie, and both were effective. The first type was the shocking action. This occurred when the protagonists were being picked off, and slaughtered. These action sequences had the surprise factor, but they also had the gore to make it feel brutal, which then made the threat feel more dangerous and made the movie feel like a gory horror movie.
Then there was the other type of action, which was just straight up action. This was when a certain protagonist was kicking ass in her effort to survive, and it was pretty entertaining. I will get into which character this was later, but she provided a number of awesome action sequences. They had plenty of gore as well, the main protagonist was awesome in them, and she always felt like an underdog due to the overwhelming situation she was in. Both types of action worked pretty well, and made this a moderately entertaining movie.
Con: One Year Earlier & The Group (-4pts)
I liked the start of this movie, because the filmmakers just sort of threw us right into the action. It let us be as confused as the protagonists, which let us put ourselves in the protagonists' shoes pretty easily. Then I got pretty annoyed when the filmmakers randomly cut to "One Year Earlier" to show how the antagonists got to where they were during the events of this movie. It just was not necessary to flash back to this, disrupted the flow of the story, and made it pointless for the filmmakers to have started the movie the way that they did. The filmmakers had a flashback that showed what I appreciated the filmmakers for not showing earlier.
Then there was the cheesy, one-dimensional, parody-like characters who made up the group of antagonists. These characters were unbelievably dumb, unbelievably incompetent, and stereotypically one-dimensional. I found the group of antagonists to be ridiculous in a bad way, so I found it weird that the filmmakers felt the need to show their origin in a flashback. I also found it really convenient for the writers that the antagonists were pretty efficient with their weapons when you did not know who they were, but were conveniently incompetent when it came time for the main protagonist to face them. Lastly, their characters felt like ridiculous parody movie characters, which was just more fuel to the fire of why these characters did not work.
Pro: Crystal (+6pts)
Crystal was a badass woman whose gender was irrelevant. These are the types of strong, female characters that work the best. The filmmakers were not beating us over the head with the idea that women can kickass just like men—or better than men—but she certainly kicked plenty of it throughout this movie. The character worked so well because she was awesome, and she had plenty of great action to prove it.
The filmmakers also did not waste our time with giving the character a long, drawn out origin story. She was previously in the military, more recently worked in a rental car company, and that was all we learned about the character. It was really all that we needed to know about the character. Her action scenes made sense when we learned that she was ex-military, and her determination made her a satisfying character to follow. A bunch of lunatics gathered her and a bunch of other random people to hunt for sport, but Crystal was not one to be trifled with, and I enjoyed watching her make her way through this story.
Con: Athena & The Reason (-5pts)
To put this very simply, Athena (Hilary Swank) was a pretty typical antagonist. She was extremely wealthy, had a grudge, and was determined to make the protagonists pay. There was really nothing to the character other than that. She was angry and mean, but the only thing worse than the overall uninteresting nature of the character was the reason why she was doing what she was doing.
I do not want to give away her reasons, but her actions seemed to make no sense when considering what her issue with the protagonists were. Her actions were too extreme for why she was doing them. Her actions were blatantly and unnecessarily self-destructive, which made it obvious that the filmmakers could not think of a good reason for why someone would do what she was doing. This was just the laziest thing that the writers could come up with, and it made the character even more disappointing than she was already. I liked seeing Hilary Swank playing a role like this one, but the character was unfortunately written pretty poorly.
Grade: C+ (79pts)
I liked how the filmmakers started the movie so quickly, and I liked the varying point-of-view characters. Both of these things made the beginning of the movie feel chaotic and unpredictable. Unfortunately, I did not like how the filmmakers did a flashback to one year prior, so that they could show how the antagonists got to where the were at the beginning of the movie. I also liked the character of Crystal, and really enjoyed the action, but I did not like the stereotypical group of antagonists or the main antagonist of Athena.
There were plenty of things that I liked about this movie. Unfortunately, there were almost just as many things that I did not like. It provided some mindless action, and a kickass main character, but it had a group of poorly written antagonists as well. The movie was mildly entertaining, but I thought it fell a little short of being decent and it did not end up being very memorable.