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Movies & TV

17th Feb 2020

Forget about The Irishman, Hunters is Al Pacino’s real comeback performance

Rory Cashin

hunters review

The new series lands in full this week.

Al Pacino doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone.

Nine acting Oscar nominations (including one Best Actor win) and a host of impressive performances besides, his reputation is permanently cemented into the history of cinema.

However, prior to The Irishman, it did feel like he had kind of stopped caring, with back-to-back projects (Jack & Jill, Righteous Kill, 88 Minutes) that smacked of nothing more than passing the time and cashing the cheques.

And even though he was fantastic in Scorsese’s ageing crime epic, even that role felt a little too comfort zone-y for Pacino. So it is fantastic to see him properly swinging for the fences again in Hunters in the kind of role that is sure to get him plenty more awards attention.

We are introduced to Pacino’s rich and secretive Meyer Offerman through Logan Lerman’s young genius Jonah Heidelbaum, when they meet at Jonah’s grandmother’s funeral. She was killed in what everyone assumed was a breaking-and-entering going wrong, but it turns out the murderer was a Nazi, one of many that have been secretly living in the United States in the three decades since World War II ended.

Turns out Granny was part of a group of Nazi hunters, funded entirely by Offerman, and with Jonah’s natural ability to crack secret codes, he’s quickly folded into the team and they set off to track down the hidden Nazis.

At the same time, there is an FBI investigation into one of their victims, who also happened to be a NASA scientist, an investigation which teases a major wider plot at play. The first five episodes shown to JOE only really snapped these two stories into focus towards the end, so with another five to go in this first season, the end result is anyone’s guess.

What is clear is that between some very stylish direction, with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and The Dying Girl) setting the visual tone with the pilot episode, and producer Jordan Peele (Get Out) likely responsible for the show not getting too weighed down with seriousness, Hunters manages to be a lot of fun.

In all of the history of the cultural world, the one thing apparently unquestionably okay to kill would appear to be Nazis, so there isn’t going to be too much dissection of the “Are we not becoming monsters like them?” existentialism along the way. Instead, there is a lot of references to comic books and Star Wars and the group referring to themselves of “Jew-per heroes”.

It plays out like A Series Of Unfortunate Events cut with Inglorious Basterds, and while it doesn’t all work perfectly – Lerman’s leading man is a weak link and the Tarantino nods get a little heavy-handed at times – but you can’t help but be entertained.

And in the middle of it all is Al Pacino, having the most fun we’ve seen him have in a very long time and delivering one of the best performances of his career because of it.

The first season of Hunters lands on Prime Video on Friday 21 February.

Clip via Amazon Prime Video