The Hunt (2020)
Director: Craig Zobel
Writers: Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof
Starring: Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, and Hilary Swank
Plot: A group of “deplorables” is hunted by rich “liberal elites” for sport.
I had high-ish hopes for The Hunt. Fresh off the success of Watchmen, I was intrigued by the idea of a political satire from Damon Lindelof. He can be such a master of intricate, subtle, impactful storytelling that gets the message across without bashing you over the head with it. Plus, with President Trump adamantly opposed to the very concept of this movie to the point that it got cancelled, I felt that it was my patriotic duty to support this flick.
Well, I gotta say… I’m super disappointed. It’s just not very good. It feels like it was written by that “edgy” kid everyone knew in eighth grade who had a “hot take” on politics. That major revelation? Politics suck. Everyone sucks. It’s awful. Wow. Cool. Thanks for that. What I thought would be a sharp political satire instead feels like it exists purely to piss everyone off.
What really sucks too is that the groundwork is there for The Hunt to be good. As a straight up, Hunger Games/Battle Royale type movie, it works quite well. The fight scenes are really well choreographed. The final showdown in particular was really cool. There’s a lot of gore. You never really know who’s safe and who’s not. There are a lot of twists and turns. The super dark humor works during the action sequences. And, it features a badass female lead who would eat Katniss Everdeen for breakfast. Judging this from an action movie perspective, it’s a really good movie. If you’re just looking for people killing people, I think you’ll be satifisied.
However, that’s not all The Hunt is aiming for. They want to be taken seriously as political satire. Their whole marketing campaign right now is banking on it. They want to be controversial. They want to make people angry. They want to make headlines. Well, mission accomplished… I guess. There’s a difference between making people think (and aggravating some in the process) and just trying to piss people off though. This is less subtle than you’re average Alex Jones rant. And it’s coming from both sides of the aisle too! They make everybody look so awful that it’s hard to tell who’s side I’m supposed to be on. These aren’t real people. These are over exaggerations of people. Again, I get that the point is that we’re all awful people but this pushes it to a limit that I can’t get behind. I think it would’ve been better with more believable characters. Instead, The Hunt is like that “neutral” family member who doesn’t follow politics except for what they see on Facebook and just makes assumptions based on the extreme stuff they see. And, that’s a shame really. I thought it did have something to say. I was looking forward to hearing that message, even if it would’ve been hard to swallow. Damon Lindeloff can make me accept things I don’t want to admit to. He’s done it before. This just made him look silly though.
TL;DR: While The Hunt works on a purely action level, it’s political message will leave just about everyone (on both sides of the aisle) disappointed.
Score: 5/10 (Meh.)