(2020) (Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank) (R)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Black Comedy/Action: A number of conservative Americans find themselves being hunted down by liberal elites.
Like several other people such as Don (WAYNE DUVALL) and Gary (ETHAN SUPLEE), Crystal (BETTY GILPIN) has regained consciousness in an unknown location, gagged like the rest. Finding a key to unlock those gags as well as a stash of weapons, she and the rest try to figure out what's going on, but learn rather quickly once gunshots from a remote bunker kill most of them. Crystal, Don, and Gary manage to escape, and then come to realize that they've been targeted -- due to their conservative stances -- by liberal elites.
From that point on, they do what they can to survive and get revenge on those who've wronged them, with Crystal appearing to be the one person best equipped to deal with the situation.
- OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
More than twenty years ago, I worked in the U.S. Senate doing television production and thus was able to watch senators of both parties interact away from the live broadcast shot. And you know what? Despite some of them being at the polar opposite extremes of the political spectrum, we could see those very same people who had just vehemently debated and argued over some amendment on the floor yukking it up along the back walls of the chamber. Now, it might not have always been that way 24/7/365, but they seemed to approach politics like a sport where they competed on the "court" but were friendly off that.
All these years later, from those still there, all of that has evaporated, with each side firmly entrenched in an us versus them mindset, and that's trickled its way down to their constituents who've made a bloodbath of pretty much any form of social media. And that sometimes spills over into the in-person, public arena, so it wouldn't surprise me if we start seeing increased incidents of violence between the left and right.
That anger and divisiveness are likely what helped spawn the idea behind "The Hunt" where liberal elites hunt down conservatives for sport. The rest of the inspiration no doubt came from Richard Connell's 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game" that's inspired any number of similarly themed social commentary (or straight out action or horror) films about people hunting people.
Here, after a brief prologue that shows how some of the "hunters" react to coming into unexpected contact with one of their intended "prey" that's stumbled out in a stupor into the cabin of a private plane on the way to the hunt, we're dropped right into the middle of the situation along with the intended victims. All find themselves waking up with locked gags in their mouths, and moments after finding the key to unlock those and a wall of assorted weaponry in a wooden box out in the middle of the field, the mayhem begins.
To their credit, director Craig Zobel and screenwriters Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof don't waste much time whittling down the survivors to the bare minimum (including quickly dispatching some of the bigger stars). There's Don (Wayne Duvall) and Gary (Ethan Suplee), but the one to watch is Snowflake, later identified as Stacy (Betty Gilpin) who reacts in a way that not only shows she's capable of handling herself (and others) but also displays the film's tone, which is a mix of satire, black comedy, and over-the-top killing action.
And while a lot of conservative commentators in real-life expressed outrage at the film's premise of hunting down "deplorables" back when this was originally supposed to be released (but was delayed in the wake of two mass shootings at the time) both sides of the political spectrum are fair game here, with no one spared the satiric barbs at mindsets, speech patterns and so on. Alas, while some of the satire hits the mark, much of it feels lazy and not as inspired as it could and should have been for an offering like this.
The highlight is Gilpin as the no-nonsense survivalist who ruins the game by turning the hunters into the hunted. While that's nothing new in terms of storylines and situations that have graced the silver screen, the actress is just so good taking care of business that you kind of, sort of want to see her character get her own spin-off flick. Or at least give this actress the leading role in any other action movie.
It's just too bad the overall film itself isn't as good as her presence and performance. If I were her, I'd be hunting for another starring role to turn her into a bonafide female action movie star. Until then, this particular "Hunt" rates as just a 4 out of 10.
Reviewed March 10, 2020 / Posted March 12, 2020
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