Borrowingly liberally (and often poorly) from comic books, 70s exploitation film and most especially Quentin Tarantino makes for a confounding but oddly entertaining revenge fantasy for Amazon.
This review of Hunters (Amazon Prime) is spoiler-free.
As the punchline to what happens when you cross Al Pacino in his first long-running scripted TV role, the horrors of the Holocaust, and a comic-book-y team of Nazi-hunting vigilantes, Amazon’s new revenge fantasy Hunters kind of works. It’s a bonkers fusion of period drama, caper, comedy, and pulp that borrows liberally – and rarely all that well – from influences which range from comics, 70s exploitation flicks and the work of Quentin Tarantino, whose creativity and facility for dialogue would have likely resulted in a much better show.
Still, what we have is certainly something, though Hunters itself rarely seems able to decide on what. Pacino plays mysterious millionaire Meyer Offerman, the frontman of a ridiculous team of vigilantes that recruits young Brooklynite Jonah Heidelberg (Logan Lerman) to ferret out Nazis hiding in 1977 New York. That’s the setup, at least, running alongside a parallel plot involving an FBI agent (Jerrika Hinton) trying to work out who’s responsible for the killings, and leaping back through time now and again to sadistic flashbacks in concentration camps designed to make the present-day Nazi offing more cathartic.
Needless to say, these attempts at somber and serious historical drama don’t exactly mesh well with Offerman’s cartoony revenge squad, which includes Sister Harriet (Kate Mulvany), an ex-spy nun, has-been actor Lonny Flash (Josh Radnor), and Black Power activist Roxy Jones (Tiffany Boone). A line-up of ludicrous villains complete the B-movie effect with frequent bouts of sloppy violence and silly dialogue, and it virtually never lines up with the show’s efforts to highlight the cruelties visited upon Jews in Auschwitz and elsewhere.
Hunters could have done with some genuine creative panache to help set these borrowed and idiosyncratic elements off – as things stand, it feels imitative and ill-fitting, for the most part, which isn’t to say there aren’t pleasures to be had nonetheless. The show’s a frequently outrageous and almost always experimental effort that justifies being seen on that basis alone, but it struggles a make a serious point amongst its various excesses.
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