BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JUNE 4, 2020
“You actually believed we were hunting human beings for sport.”— Athena (Hilary Swank)
Beyond anything it had to say politically, one thing “The Hunt” achieves is showing just how badass Betty Gilpin is as an actress. Yes, she’s been kicking ass on Netflix’s “GLOW” as she throws down in the squared circle, but here, she takes it up a notch, in a southern drawl, gun-toting, commando sort of way. You may remember “The Hunt” being talked about a lot last year when the world was worried about much fewer things. With gun violence in our country rising to new heights, Universal and the producers of the film, including Jason Blum, decided it wasn’t the best time to release the movie. But this year, all bets were off.
“The Hunt” follows in the vein the Stephen King (actually under the pseudonym Richard Bachman) book, “The Running Man,” where a group of regular people is hunted by the rich for sport. “The Running Man” was turned into a movie in 1987, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the hunted. That, however, took place in a dystopian future all across the country. “The Hunt” takes place in the present-day in one countryside. Betty Gilpin is one of the hunted people. However, she turns the tables and becomes the predator. She eventually comes face to face with Athena (Hilary Swank), culminating in a well-choreographed fight that was better than anything else in the film.
The writers decided to take every jab at politics that they could, instilling what you’d imagine the worst social influencers are saying on their social media feeds (“For the record, asshole, climate change is real”). However, they take a spin on the entire premise, making almost every character morally bankrupt. Not just that, they use an ensemble cast in one of the most interesting ways I’ve seen in a while, with Ike Barinholtz, Ethan Suplee, Emma Robert, and Justin Hartley used in very interesting, non-conventional ways. Give credit to Jason Blum and Nick Cuse, who have done their homework. With allusions to “Animal Farm” by George Orwell and even giving a new spin to the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” they don’t miss a beat without trying to teach a moral.
Unfortunately, “The Hunt” is a bit too on the nose. A film that landed this idea of wealthy people hunting innocents more effectively was “Ready or Not,” starring Samara Weaving. That film was a bit more subtle and took on a style of its own, while “The Hunt” felt blatant for blatant’s sake. Like the influencers it panned through its script, the film delivers everything in a “look-at-me” sort of way, even down to the advertising calling out the dubious claims touted about the film. Anyone looking for subtlety won’t find a shred of it here.
March 13, 2020
(for strong bloody violence, and language throughout)