Ok, after a few weeks of anticipation, Amazon Prime Video has debuted their newest series, called Hunters and well, after watching the first three episodes, I'm not so impressed.
Inspired by the real Nazi Hunters, who pursued and punished Nazis who yet to face justice, Hunters centers around a young teenager named Jonah and a group of specialized Nazi Hunters targeting fugitive Nazis who have entered the United States under a new identity.
Some are Space Engineers for NASA and there are some who go as far as to infiltrate the political party, which isn't too hard to believe nowadays.
As if that wasn't bad enough, the collective hive of Hitler henchmen, are planning something big.... as in establishing a Fourth Reich!
Meanwhile, Jonah who lives with his Grandmother or "Safra" Ruth, who lives what some refer to it as a "normal" life of a Teenager. He goes to movies with his friends, works in a Comicshop annnnd sells drugs to help his beloved Nanny!
All seems well until one night, a mysterious stranger cloaked in black, enters their home, and murders but not before she mentions that she knows him. All this, while a horrified Jonah just looks on.
A Hunting, we will go...
During Ruth's repast, Jonah is befriended by an old acquaintance of Ruth, Meyer Offerman (Played by the brilliant Al Pacino) who makes Jonah an offer he won't refuse.
Driven by what's called "Jewish Guilt" Jonah is eager to go on this quest for vengeance and help hunt down the "Nazi Schnatzies", but at what cost?
So, that’s the basic premise of Hunters . Created by David Weir and produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us and before that Key and Peele.)
Hunters in spite of it's premise, is a mixed bag in various aspects.
The pacing during the first 4 episodes is flat, and there are times where Weir can’t help but crib off certain movies, like Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards and a McGuffin like 1974's Blaxploitation hit Three the Hard Way. Had it not been for a modicum of suspense with Peele's social commentary thrown in and solid performances by Pacino, Kane, Baker and Lerman, Hunters would be an empty vessel that relies on being derivative.
The sequence involving the introduction of the hunters with a jazzed up Barmitztvah instrumental song, was not as inspiring as it was meant to be. Yes, this series places a direct focus on the Jewish characters as it well should, since the Nazis were responsible for the extermination of Six Million Jews.
The Nazi Hunters, comprise of a few diverse eclectic and eccentric characters specializing in counter intelligence, covert operations, interrogation and my favorite, assassination. It's like the who's who of a certain iconic toy franchise, but instead of being "Real American Heroes", they lean towards Anti heroism.
Meyer's mercenaries with purpose, range from an elderly married couple, a Japanese Vietnam war veteran, a Christian nun with British accent in tow, and some messuganah who was once a famous actor, now infamous as a "Master of disguise ". Trust me, he aint got shit on Zartan!
Rounding out the rest are a few non-Jewish individuals joining the fight i.e. Roxy, a Sistah with a giant ol skool fro more than likely a nod toward the Pam Grier films of legend. Roxy is a Black Militant counterfeiter and single mom, who signed up for Meyer's merry band of hunters in order to make ends meet and fund her Baby Daddy's Black Power organization.
Speaking of which, when it comes to persons of color, why aren’t there any prominent Black men, aside from Jonah’s friend are within the cast?
It's practically all females running the game as far as Blacks are concerned.
Case in point, there’s FBI Agent Millie Morris who if not cast as a "Single Mother, " is involved within a LBGTQRSTUV relationship.
Once again, Black supporting characters are depicted as homosexuals as seen in Arrow, Sabrina, Mrs. Fletcher, Batwoman, Watchmen and i'll go on till 2 in the morning!
On the surface, Hollywood is honoring "diversity", so what would be a better way of embracing this, than having what, three Black females within this series take charge, while the Brothas are being sidelined?
To make matters worse, Roxy says to Meyer, " I don't know what would happen to me and my Malika if you haven't come for us". 🙄 Yep, Roxy is no "Foxy"!
But I digress.
Al Pacino's Yiddish accent as Meyer seems overdone, but there are a few breaks in the accent, whenever he makes a outburst bearing familiarity to his previous performances.
In other words, "Pacinoesque"!
I'm impressed by the vigilantes 'interrogation practices like blowtorching some guys nuts, waterboarding or forcing a captive to eat shit and die. (Litterally!) At the series' core, its good vs evil and the Nazis are evil personified, ergo the brutal torture scenes are more than justifiable.
Throughout the series, there’s sporadic flashbacks reminiscent to CW's Arrow, which adds enough backstory for our vigilante heroes, one, was Mindy and Murray Markowitz-Polish Jews who were survivors of the Nazi Death Camps. It's no doubt lifted from real events yet, provided a very cathartic moment during the latter episodes.
To balance out the myopic scenes, there are a few clever pop culture references thrown in. Off the bat, I recall Jonah mentioning Batman and Frank Castle seeking justice, a bizarre Saturday Night Fever dance off in Coney Island and a well-placed satirical Game Show called, "Why Everyone Hates the Jews" that tackled preconceived stereotypes about Jewish people.
Again, the social commentary is apt especially during verbal exchanges between Biff Simpson and Morris or Travis' another major antagonist, who is a seriously deluded American who goes about murdering innocents in the name of Darwinism, yet made his bones to the extent of appeasing Nazi mastermind, The Colonel (Lena Olin) which leads us to the penultimate episode where things come to fruition, in a sense of the word, Joe and Lonny infiltrates the not so secret processing plant that plays a major part as the McGuffin and Offerman's foil, gets her just deserts or does she?
“Keep your friends close..”
Just when you think things are going the way you expect, the writers manage to throw a monkey wrench in the storyline. You’re left wondering whose motives are legit or who is working for the enemy. Oh, you can bet your “tukas”, that there’s a few twists and turns throughout the latter episodes proving at it’s core, Hunters is a suspense series.
I was annoyed by that clichéd scene where Jonah’s intervention of becoming what he hates, when he's about to pull the trigger. Jesus fucking Christ was that an epic fail!!
Great use of The Doors' "The End" during the end credits however.
Overall, Hunters is an okay effort, with too much emphasis on telling a story, sacrificing action sequences and some pacing but still worthy of a binge because of its suspenseful elements with a modicum of conspiracy tropes which seems credible. You must watch it to see how everything unfolds.
I couldn't help but laugh, when Millie was approached by a Jewish Woman to offer her a job recruiting Nazi Hunters. It’s like an unintentional spoof of Nick Fury mentioning the "Avengers Imitative" during the post credits of 2008's Iron Man.😆
But all kidding aside, there's a big mindfuck near the end, and if you're familiar with The Usual Suspects, or most M. Night Shyamalan films, you know what you're in for!
One of the complaints I heard about Hunters, was the questionable timing of its release during Black History Month when in my opinion Passover would have been more appropriate.
Yes, Hunters is condescending at times, but to its credit, it pulls no punches when mentioning how America was so complicit when aiding and abetting Nazis. Ah, "Murica"!!
So, what have we learned from Hunters?
Nazis, bad! And so is Corn syrup! 😉