ⓘ The Hunter (2011 Australian film)

The Hunter (2011 Australian film)

ⓘ The Hunter (2011 Australian film)

The Hunter is a 2011 Australian drama film, directed by Daniel Nettheim and produced by Vincent Sheehan, based on the 1999 novel of the same name by Julia Leigh. It stars Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill and Frances OConnor. Dafoe flew to Hobart, Tasmania for the premiere of the film at the State Cinema.

The film opened to the Australian public in cinemas on 29 September 2011.

The film revolves around a professional hunter who travels to Tasmania to hunt down the worlds only remaining thylacine.


1. Plot

Mercenary Martin David is hired by military biotech company, Red Leaf, to go to Tasmania and gather samples of the Thylacine, with further instructions to kill all remaining tigers to ensure no competing organization will get their DNA.

Posing as a university biologist, Martin lodges in the home of the Armstrong family: Lucy and her two young children, Katie and Jamie. Lucy is perpetually benumbed from prescribed medication, taken after the disappearance of her environmentalist husband, Jarrah Armstrong. Speculation surrounds Jarrahs disappearance, particularly with regards to a longstanding conflict between the local loggers who are in desperate need of jobs, and the greenies, a group of environmentalists who have set up road blocks to the forest to prevent its deforestation. Martin goes into the bush for twelve days at a time, setting up various steel traps and makeshift snares, while waiting patiently to see if a tiger will surface. During his short stays at the Armstrongs to resupply, Martin slowly befriends the children, and discovers that Lucys medication is delivered to her by Jack Mindy, who has been unofficially looking in on the family. Martin confiscates Lucys medication, and bathes her while she is unconscious, after realizing the detrimental effects of her dependency.

During one return from the bush, Martin finds Lucy has recovered from the symptoms of her addiction. Jamie provides Martin with a clue as to the tigers whereabouts: a drawing of the tiger near trees and small bodies of water. From the drawing, Martin is able to deduce the tigers location on his map. On his next trip out, Martin stumbles across Jarrahs skeletal remains and discovers that he had been shot through the head. Martin gives him a proper burial, but does not reveal his findings to the Armstrong family. On his return to the Armstrong house, Lucy informs him that Red Leaf had initially contracted Jarrah to locate the tiger, a pursuit he eventually abandoned in favor of taking up an environmental cause to protect wildlife and that Red Leaf wanted Jarrah to find the tiger because they believed that it had a paralyzing venom in its bite.

While hiking to check his traps, Martin is ambushed by a rival Red Leaf operative sent to replace him. The man binds Martins hands and instructs Martin to lead him to the tigers cave, but Martin instead leads the operative past one of his steel traps. The operative steps on the trap, and its metal teeth bind his leg. The operative drops both rifles. Martin frees his hands, picks up one of the rifles, and kills the operative just as the operative frees himself from the trap and lunges for the other rifle. Martin returns to the Armstrong residence to find it burnt down. Confronting Mindy, he learns that Lucy and Katie had perished in the fire that Mindy claims broke out by accident, but Jamie survived and was taken by the authorities. Martin sets out into the bush once more to find the Tasmanian tiger and put an end to Red Leafs pursuit. He finally finds the creature and reluctantly shoots it, then proceeds to cremate it in order to remove all traces of its existence.

Martin returns to town and calls Red Leaf, informing them that what they are looking for is "gone forever". He then goes to a school where Jamie sits alone on a bench. When Jamie sees Martin, he runs excitedly toward him and the two embrace.


2. Cast

  • Sam Neill as Jack Mindy
  • Willem Dafoe as Martin David the Hunter
  • Frances OConnor as Lucy Armstrong
  • Sullivan Stapleton as Doug
  • Maia Thomas as Shakti
  • John Brumpton as Publican
  • Mark Hennessy as Martin Stunt Double
  • Jamie Timony as Free
  • Jacek Koman as Middleman
  • Marc Watson-Paul as Jarrah Armstrong
  • Dan Spielman as Simon
  • Callan Mulvey as Rival Hunter
  • Dan Wyllie as Pool Player
  • Finn Woodlock as Bike Jamie
  • Morgana Davies as Sass Katie

3. Filming locations

Filmed entirely in Tasmania, locations include:

  • Hotel Grand Chancellor foyer, Hobart as Paris airport hotel
  • Hobart International Airport, Cambridge
  • Moonah Primary School, Moonah
  • Westerway General Store, Westerway
  • Central Plateau
  • Mount Wellington
  • Upper Florentine Valley
  • Lenna of Hobart, Battery Point as Paris hotel room
  • National Park Hotel, Mount Field National Park

4. Critical reception

The film received generally favourable reviews from most critics, and currently holds a 72% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 6.54/10, based on 90 reviews. The sites critical consensus states that The Hunter occasionally suffers from predictability, but Willem Dafoe gives a terrific performance as an obsessive hunter on the trail of a mysterious beast." On Metacritic, the film holds a 63 out of 100, based on 15 critics. Kim Newman from Empire gave the film three stars, calling The Hunter "a slow-burning, beautifully shot, and highly understated philosophical thriller".