Craig Zobel’s The Hunt is a film rife with two things: violence and political commentary. But is it good? Well, it really depends on who you ask. The flick manages to take jabs at both the far right and far left, potentially alienating a large portion of its audience without really standing up for anything.
On the topic of politics, the film doesn’t openly take sides. It follows a group of conservatives who have been abducted for the purpose of being hunted by liberal elites. Both camps are depicted as equally reprehensible. The key players are (somewhat) grossly exaggerated caricatures and heavily steeped in stereotype but there’s at least a grain of truth to the portrayals. Many of the remarks uttered by both sides could have been ripped from the comments section of any politically-charged Facebook post.
The film’s message suggests that our nation’s two party system can lead people to put their political ideals before common sense. The solution to a problem isn’t always partisan and trying to make it such can keep us from seeing the humanity in others, even if we are on opposing sides of the political platform.
That message is driven home by the fact that the one character the audience is meant to identify with never really discloses a political affiliation but does demonstrate that she has at least a shred of humanity when she helps rescue an immigrant mother and her baby from the blast radius of a grenade.
Regardless of seemingly trying to stay non-partisan, the film has been called reprehensible, outrageous, and inappropriate by many critics. But I didn’t find it all that shocking. We are in a very politically-charged time and place right now and some of the humor may have been perceived as misguided or offensive (and some of it definitely is). But I was expecting much worse than what I saw after reading some of the early reviews.
As hard as the film tries to stay neutral, a large part of me wishes it would have picked a lane. Like our Joey Keogh pointed out in her review, many left-leaning folks are fighting for equality for all and standing out against acts of bigotry, homophobia, and racism. To paint them as cold-blooded killers hunting for sport feels tone deaf upon reflection. And a lot of the credit, or maybe more accurately, blame for that lies with screenwriters Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof. I appreciate the message of seeing beyond partisanship but The Hunt would have been a better film if it had actually taken a stand and picked a lane.
Is it worth a watch? Maybe. There were certainly parts of The Hunt that I enjoyed. The final fight sequence between the soul survivor of the abductees and the leader of the liberal elites is a pretty epic showdown. There’s also plenty of gooey violence and masterful FX work on display. But the feature ultimately fails to speak up in a time of great turmoil and political tension. And, for that, I find it lacking.
The Hunt is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD from Universal Home Entertainment.
WICKED RATING: 5/10
Director(s): Craig Zobel
Writer(s): Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof
Stars: Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, and Ike Barinholtz
Release: June 16, 2020 (Home Video
Studio/ Production Co: Universal, Blumhouse
Budget: $14 Million (estimated)