Amazon Prime’s Hunters is a stylish, genre-bending, and fascinatingly pulpy tale of revenge against the grotesque atrocities committed by Nazis in WWII. In many ways, it’s surprisingly similar to Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, with Oscar-winner Al Pacino’s Holocaust survivor Meyer Offerman in place of Oscar-winner Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine.
Weirdly, it works.
The 10-episode first season is set in 1977 and focuses on an eclectic group of hunters tracking Nazis who are hiding out in America. Many of these war criminals are actually hiding in plain sight, thanks to assistance from the U.S. government. They’ve taken new identities and, in some cases, high-level jobs but deep down they’re still the despicable human beings who sent millions of innocent Jewish men, women, and children to their deaths in concentration camps.
Pacino’s millionaire financier Meyer Offerman is the leader of this close-knit secret organization. He not only decides who to target next on the group’s list of most-wanted Nazis, but he’s also financially capable of self-funding the organization. Meyer makes no bones about the fact that revenge delayed is still justified and still satisfying.
It’s through the eyes of an initially reluctant new recruit played by Logan Lerman that we are introduced to the other members of this secret club of vigilantes. Lerman plays Jonah Heidelbaum, a self-proclaimed comic book geek who’s drawn into this deadly world of Nazi hunters after his beloved grandmother is murdered. Her death exposes the young man to a life of tracking Nazis she kept hidden.
Meyer introduces Jonah to the lethal collection of Nazi hunters, each possessing a special skill or talent that makes them crucial to the group’s success. It’s during this introduction to the key players that Hunters is at its most garishly ‘70s retro and Tarantino-esque. Each member of the team is introduced like a crime-fighting superhero complete with a tidy little backstory package highlighting their contributions to killing Nazis – and a movie poster.
Kate Mulvany’s Sister Harriet is a former member of MI6 and Josh Radnor’s Lonny Flash is described as a master of mimicry and disguise. Tiffany Boone’s Roxy Jones is a Black Power activist who looks straight out of a ‘70s blaxploitation film. Roxy’s talents include forgery, counterfeiting, and cleaning crime scenes. Plus she rocks killer costumes.
Louis Ozawa’s Joe Mizushima got his training during three tours of duty as a soldier in Vietnam. And last but not least, Holocaust survivors Mindy (Carol Kane) and Murray Markowitz (Saul Rubinek) are the team’s gadget-making experts. (Their poster’s tagline: “A couple of Chabad-asses.”)
While the Nazi hunters are busy seeking retribution, FBI Agent Millie Morris (Jerrika Hinton) is separately delving into the deaths of elderly Germany immigrants.
Amazon provided the first five episodes of Hunters for review and those episodes focused on developing Lerman and Pacino’s characters while the rest of the Nazi hunters filled in various blanks in the storylines. The assorted members of the team are all interesting and, hopefully, their stories will be further fleshed out in later episodes.
The series makes a point of never portraying these Nazi criminals as sympathetic, even while showing them to be hiding out disguised as hard-working family men/women. It also never shies away from graphic scenes of violence both in Nazi Germany’s concentration camps and in the group’s murder of Nazis in ‘70s New York.
Al Pacino does a terrific job of leading the talented ensemble. And Logan Lerman has never been better than as this naïve young man who’s forced into confronting evil on a level he never dreamed existed in his pot-selling, comic-book loving world.
Hunters asks – and occasionally answers – a lot of philosophical questions, not the least of which is whether eye for an eye can be morally justified in the most heinous crimes. Although the first couple of episodes were a little too all over the place, by episode four the hours invested in binge-watching really payoff.
Hunters will premiere on Friday, February 21, 2020.
Produced By: Amazon Studios, Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and Sonar Entertainment
Executive Produced By: Showrunner David Weil, showrunner Nikki Toscano, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Win Rosenfeld, Nelson McCormick, and David Ellender