By: John M Jerva

REVIEW: The Hunt

Starring: Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Wayne Duvall, Ethan Suplee, Emma Roberts, and Hilary Swank

Directed By: Craig Zobel

Official Synopsis: Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are — or how they got there. In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, ruthless elitists gather at a remote location to hunt humans for sport. But their master plan is about to be derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal, turns the tables on her pursuers.

THE REVIEW: Back in September of last year, when everything was a little more normal that it is now, a trailer was released for the action-comedy staire The Hunt and it immediately sparked controversy to the point where Universal Pictures pulled the film from its release schedule indefinitely The movie serves up some biting political satire on the state of affairs at the time and with the controversy at a fever pitch, Universal decided to nix the release and wait to release the film when things quited down.

Out of the blue, they decided to release the film this month and upon its arrival, the film didn’t seem so controversial in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic gripping the world. Sure, it still had its biting wit and over the top gore but with more pressing matters at hand, it didn’t seem as important.

Unfortunately, theaters have shut down left and right as we try to contain the virus putting this film and many others in a state of limbo. Universal has decided to release this one and future films on Digital for now so they can reach the masses and The Hunt just dropped on Digital and VOD this past Friday so people can watch it in the comfort of their own homes. I’m a huge fan of this choice as I find it hard to make it to the cinema with life and work.

I’m here to say that as a controversial film, I have seen a lot better but as an escapist action flick with witty humor, it hits the bullseye and more delivering a wild story that we have seen many times before but whips it up in a way that is fresh and invigorating.

The main plot of The Hunt is simple and it takes its cues from The Most Dangerous Game where people are hunted for sport and with disposable characters popping up every second, you don’t know who is gonna survive. This is a pot device that I rather enjoyed as it kept you on your toes because you would be introduced to someone and then five seconds later, their head would get blown clean off. I think I actually said WOW a bunch of times.

The film starts off with shock and awe as 12 strangers wake up in a field and immediately begin to get picked off by unseen assailants. The violence comes fast and quick and audiences will not be ready for the carnage at hand. I was excited to see actor Justin Hartley, who played Oliver Queen/Green Arrow on Smallville, and immediately thought that he would be the film’s hero until he, SPOILER ALERT!, steps on a landmine and explodes into a million pieces. That’s when I knew that no one was safe in the flick. Sorry Justin, we never really got to know you.

We are eventually introduced to Crystal, played by Betty Gilpin of Netflix’s GLOW, and immediately she makes an entrance announcing to the audience that she is no one to be messed with. Just like the other characters in the film, we know next to nothing about her except for the fact that she’s Southern and really, really knows how to handle herself. Gilpin’s deadpan delivery of her lines is nothing short of awesome and I snickered even when she was being serious. She is just bad ass plan and simple and she tells it like it is.

The rest of the cast is spot on as well when they are actually on screen before their eventual demise like Ike Barinholtz who plays Staten Island and Ethan Suplee as (Shut the F**k Up) Gary (I love that name by the way). Don’t get me started on Wayne Duvall as Don. You would forget about him and then he just pops up agin out of the blue. We also have Academy Award winner Hilary Swank as the main baddie named Athena who is behind it all but unfortunately she has a limited amount of screen time where the film could have used her a lot more. She’s a great actress and always elevates the films she is in.

Director Craig Zobel and writers Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof deliver a biting and satirical commentary of today’s society with upscale elitists hunting regular blue collar people for the hell of it. I think they’re just bored so why not wipe the floor with some regular folk. The thing is that they make fun of everybody and no one is safe from the insults so I wasn’t offended at all. As a matter of fact, I found it dead on with its message and thought it delivered a scathing view on all the social classes. Basically, we just need to stop fighting with each other and come together as one world. With what is going on right now, this message is as strong as ever.

The action is brutal like I said and people who are thrown off by graphic violence will be turned off but if you can handle the goods then you will have a great time as it never holds back and Gilpin does her best impersonation as a take no shit anti-hero who will do what she needs to do to survive. I would love to see her suit up for a special forces type flick and watch her pummel the competition.

This is a hard movie to review as everyone will have their own ideas about it but for me I had an absolute blast with it and thought the satire was welcoming. It’s my opinion and what I got out of it. This plot has been done to death but here we are again with another fresh take on it and I will be watching this one more thn once. It is part action film, part comedy, part horror and all around insane and if you go into it knowing what you’re in for then I think you will have fun with the ride. Think Battle Royale meets The Purge and you’ll get the idea. If anything, it will surely make you forget about everyhting else for 90 minutes and after all, isn’t that why we watch movies?

VERDICT: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

ACTION-FLIX APPROVED!

THE HUNT is now available on Theater At Home on all Digital Platforms and VOD from Universal Home Entertainment.

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