Willem Dafoe gets lost on this trail.
THE HUNTER (Daniel Nettheim). 100 minutes. Opens Friday (April 13). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
You have to give Willem Dafoe credit. The actor can pretty much phone in a precise performance while using his hypnotic bone structure to do the talking. Unfortunately, The Hunter, about a soldier of fortune stalking an extinct beast, isn't as captivating as the crevices on that face.
Adapted from Julia Leigh's novel, the eco-friendly quasi-western is constantly on the verge of getting interesting but never goes in for the kill.
Dafoe's Martin is a stranger in the Australian wilderness, under contract to a cloak-and-dagger biotech company that wants him to capture the last of the presumed-extinct Tasmanian tigers (a creature that did actually exist).
He stirs up a ruckus with typically brutish local loggers who don't take kindly to foreigners. Meanwhile, he befriends two engineered-to-be-adorable children who warm his cold demeanour with scenes that (yes, I have to admit) are cute.
Director Daniel Nettheim shows a patient hand in developing Martin's relationship with nature, Dafoe logging plenty of hours in the fog-shrouded Tasmanian woods. But the film falls prey to clichés and predictability, since it follows the plot points laid out by so many westerns and fails to cover its tracks along the way.