Upon its release, and after only two episodes, I had my reservations about the Amazon original series Hunters. Eventually, my feelings were confirmed by many who were not pleased with the series that exploits “inspired events” regarding Nazi hunters throughout the decades. The show has gone to great lengths to express that it is not a specific representation of any of them.
This is obvious early on with the over-exaggeration of both the Jewish characters (emphasis on characters) and the dastardly Nazis. With gratuitous acts of violence, over-the-top acting, and utilizing the Holocaust to justify a Death Wish resolution, this new Amazon presentation will be barely palatable for many even with the big names of Al Pacino and Jordan Peele. The tired plot feels lifted from an old James Bond movie that pales in comparison to better films like The Boys From Brazil and Marathon Man.
The idea itself is intriguing, but it takes a wrong turn into just another hipster version of American Horror Story with a cool soundtrack Quentin Tarantino would be proud of, an uncalled for musical dance sequence with the style of storytelling and directing very reminiscent of QT. The thing is, if QT had taken the story of slavery, peppered it with Stepin Fetchit characters seeking retribution against backwoods slave owners, he would receive a mountain of hate from the African-American community and the show would probably be taken off the air.
I’m not suggesting that the show is anti-semitic, just wrong-minded in its storytelling. Although, the creator, David Weils, insists that he was thoughtful, even going to the point of not having any tattooed numbers that could remind one of a victim from the Holocaust. But, that did not prevent him from depicting outrageous made up scenes like the murderous human chess game at a Nazi concentration camp.
I was put off at first by Al Pacino doing the schmaltziest of Jewish impersonations, but eventually warmed up to him as I did with several other characterizations that felt offensive with their introductions. Many of the “hunters” come across cartoonish. In fact, the whole show feels more like a graphic novel. Perhaps that is what the creator was going for. But, it just didn’t feel right with such sensitive subject matter.
Film and TV rarely offend me, and I’ve put up with my share of viewing gratuitous violence. Yet, this show really bothered me. But, I continued to watch it to see if it would get better. It does in spurts and fits. Although, the portrayal of the Nazis is so over-the-top one is just waiting for a “hissing” background noise to accompany every entrance.
The top Nazi, actress Lena Olin as “The Colonel,” has not been this freakishly evil since Romeo is Bleeding. You could easily think, my God, they had to make her so awful that characters would only recognize her by her rank. But, a ridiculous reveal at the end of the series gives justification for the concealment of her identity.
Speaking of the end, I can’t remember the last time a show left a bad taste in my mouth with its season finale. Perhaps Dexter, but that show had a very strong first season and petered out by the seventh. I would say the problem with this show is the hype, but that is only the beginning.
The damn show is bi-polar with its mix of dark comedy and moments of intense drama. Somehow this worked for several seasons of AHS, but you knew from the beginning it was not to be taken seriously. It was entertainment for the horror genre audience. It’s hard to imagine what audience Hunters is aiming for. Although, there are some who have found the entertainment value in it. But, you have to ask yourself, what is the world coming to when we’re looking at the Holocaust as an entertaining plot point.