Martin, played by two-time Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe, is a skilled mercenary hired by an anonymous company and sent to the wilds of Tasmania. His mission impossible is to hunt for a Tasmanian tiger—a flesh eating wolf-like marsupial with stripes and believed to be extinct. Based on alleged sightings of this rare predatory animal, Martin’s employers send him to catch the tiger for its genetic material. The isolated world of hunter Martin poetically echoes that of the hunted wild “Tazzy.”
Under the guise of scientific research Martin is sent to stay with a family but finds the living situation far different than expected. Aside from the startling lack of amenities he’s also faced with two neglected children (brilliantly played by Morgana Davies and Jacek Koman), and a mother (Frances O’Connor) doped on pain meds. There is one friend (Sam Neill) who comes by to check on them, but it quickly becomes apparent that these ragamuffins need looking after. The autonomous Martin resents the emotional intrusion but mysteries about the missing father combined with rumors of the tiger sightings begin to crack the edges of the hunter.
It is hard to imagine anyone but Willem Dafoe as Martin. Director Daniel Nettheim said, “It is crucial that Martin is much more than merely enigmatic. The audience needs to find him compelling to watch.” Producer Vincent Sheehan said, “It had to be an actor who offered leading man qualities as well as being believably old enough to be facing his ‘last chance of redemption’ while also being profoundly physically fit. There are very few actors who match all of these categories. Willem does.”
The Hunter provides a haunted, eerie, voyage into a dangerous world that will make you hold your breath. Opens in theaters April 6.
Watch rare footage of the last Tasmanian tiger circa 1933.
Watch The Hunter movie trailer.