On Hunters from Amazon Prime Video
Hunters was created by David Weil, and among its executive producers is Jordan Peele. It stars Al Pacino, Logan Lerman, Carol Kane, Josh Radnor, and many other new and not-so-new names in acting. Each member of this team performed at peak levels, insofar as what is visible to the audience member.
I hate that this show came to us from Amazon, but I am going to (even though it is problematic) ignore that for this discussion of the merit of the show. Hunters is a beautifully crafted tale of fictional characters in mid-70s NYC who hunt Nazis who were relocated to the United States by our own government. This story is based on a mix of fiction and fact, the most overwhelming fact of this story being that our government really, really did relocate Nazis after the war. That is part of the reason we got to the moon when we did.
The show looks good from start to finish, and its performances are strong from start to finish. It is a visceral, emotional, entertainingly brutal (at specifically Nazi-killing times), and even funny experience all the way through. There are problematic aspects to the show, though. I have to bring it up, if only to discuss the labors of adapting whatever historical fact available into a fictional story (without turning the story into a revisionist piece). Much of the depiction of cruelty shown in the concentration camps throughout the flashbacks in the show is pushed far to the side of caricature, much to the viewer’s dismay. It seems as though this might have been meant to make us feel pure hatred, but…we already feel that for these figures in history. We do not need to be reminded of what they are and were. In fact, fictional depiction of Nazi cruelty during the war might actually have hurt the show’s chances of actually paying respect to real-life victims and their real-life experiences.
What makes this show a very important watch, regardless of its problematic nature, is just how topical it is. We have lived among Nazis ever since such a culture was born, and it is important to have a cathartic experience of watching scenarios play out in which they are not the most dangerous people for once. Of course, the bigger message of the show is that Nazis remain the most dangerous snakes in our grass to this day. They really, really do.
It is not a light viewing experience by any means, and it does have quite a few flaws as a show. It takes very kitschy twists and turns that made me gag they were so trite. However, it remains a show in which the good guys and bad guys are plainly visible. It makes it easy to understand what is right and what is wrong, and I like (sometimes) not having to figure that out for myself. I suggest giving this show a chance because it tells the story from a perspective we rarely get to see in such light. The survivor.
I suggest giving this show a chance because it is clearly influenced by Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino and so many others without lending its time to borrowing more than only a few elements from these filmmakers. I suggest giving this show a chance because it is raw, and not once does it deviate from the primary emotion of anger toward deniers and sympathizers and, basically, everyone who is on the wrong side of history right now.
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