Amazon’s newest original show, Hunters, premiered last Friday. After months of waiting, I was excited to watch my most anticipated new show of 2020. The series was created by David Weil and executively produced by Jordan Peele. It follows Jonah (Logan Lerman), a teenage boy living in New York who witnesses the murder of his grandmother, Ruth (Jeannie Berlin). During her funeral reception, Jonah meets Meyer Offerman (Al Pacino), one of his grandmother’s old friends who was with her in the concentration camps. Not willing to let his grandmother’s murder go unpunished, Jonah asks for Meyer’s help to track down the killer. It’s there where Meyer reveals that he and his grandmother were hunting down Nazis who had come to America after World War II.
Meyer and Ruth developed a plan to devil justice to any Nazi member they found. Knowing that two people wouldn’t be enough to get this done, Meyer brought on a team of Jewish mercenaries and an actor to join them. Meyer introduces Jonah to the rest of the team, who have been appropriately named as “The Hunters” and offers him a place on the team. To get justice for his Ruth and for those who were affected by the Holocaust, Jonah joins the team. However, he quickly realizes that not everything about being a Nazi hunter will be easy. The group stumbles upon a plan that will inevitably lead to the creation of a Fourth Reich within the U.S. while being hunted by an FBI agent, Millie Morris (Jerrika Hinton).
Hunters completely grabbed my attention after the introduction of the first episode. Not only does it do an incredible job at setting up the dark and comedic tone of the overall series, but it also lets its audience know to expect the unexpected. It also shows just how far those that were affiliated with the Nazi party were willing to go to keep their secret identities hidden. The opening theme, which shows The Hunters and several Nazis who are now high-ranking government officials as chess pieces. Chess plays a major role within the series and the opening does a great job foreshadowing this. Additionally, I have to give praise to whoever designed the individual chess pieces as they all resemble the actors and their characters very well.
One of the main elements of the show is the friendship that is formed between Jonah and Meyer. From the very first scene that they share, I got the sense that Meyer would end up being like a father figure to Jonah. This becomes more clear when Meyer tells Jonah that he was imprisoned in the same concentration camp as his grandmother. It’s powerful that two separate tragedies connect these two characters together and that Ruth is at the very center of them. Their relationship only grows closer as the show progresses, which was handled fairly well. Lerman and Pacino were able to play off of each other in ways that left me completely awestruck at times. I’ll be interested to see how this bond is carried forward if the show gets a second season.
Out of the many villains in Hunters, I was completely blown away by Travis (Greg Austin). I never expected his character to play such a major role since he didn’t have any association with the Nazi party. However, he quickly becomes a major threat to The Hunters and to the people they care for the most. His character, who I thought was extremely annoying at first, quickly transitioned into a much more villainous person. His monologues, facial expressions, and musical moments were incredible. Austin really got into his character to the point where I had no choice but to fully root for the fact that I hated him. If the show gets a second season, I’ll be eager to see how Austin can only improve on his character. I wouldn’t want to just see a repetition of his mannerisms from this season.
The rest of the supporting cast were absolutely incredible. Lonny Flash (Josh Radnor) was the integral comedic relief that The Hunters needed. I hadn’t seen Radnor in anything since How I Met Your Mother, which made me forget how genuinely funny and charismatic the characters that he plays can really be. Mindy (Carol Kane) and Murray Markowitz (Saul Rubinek), who were survivors of the Holocaust, had such powerful scenes. Both Kane and Rubinek were able to show the immense trauma that their characters went through.
Joe (Louis Ozawa) and Sister Harriet (Kate Mulvany) added the ferocity and badass-ness that the group needed. I want more of their characters if the show gets another season. Roxy (Tiffany Boone) wasn’t featured much but the scenes she had were incredible. A particular scene she had with her younger daughter made her stand out even more. As for Millie, I couldn’t see the real purpose of her character other than to get in the way of The Hunters’ plans. Nothing about her character felt important, almost as if she was just pushed in for the sake of having the main characters deal with someone pursuing them.
I wasn’t expecting the number of comedic scenes that were included in Hunters, especially with the show having such a heavy topic. However, the comedic scenes that were included felt like ones that Jordan Peele would include in either Get Out or Us. The scenes I’m referring to act like commercial breaks and normally serve as commentary of the outrageous situations that came out of Nazis being undercover in America. I found myself laugh at the scenes but also was left thinking about what I had just seen. These sorts of scenes would have had a much different effect had anyone but Peele attempted to include them.
One of the few grievances that I have with the show is how long the episodes are. With other forms of media like Avengers: Endgame and The Irishman being over three hours long, respectively, I can’t understand why Hunters felt the need to make each episode over an hour long. I binged through the entire season for the sake of writing this review, but I can’t fathom how someone can handle over eleven hours of this show. I’m mainly focusing on the fact of how heavy the subject that this show tackles really is and how far the show goes to make the points it wants to make. It’s a lot to take in for watching this in just one sitting. I recommend spreading out the episodes, especially because of the subject matter.
Much like Quinten Tarantino’s most recent film, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, Hunters changes many historical events for the sake of its plot. There’s one particular scene that was hard to watch and received a lot of negative backlash from several people, including the Auschwitz Memorial. In a flashback, Meyer tells Jonah about how several prisoners were forced to act as chess pieces in a real-life game by one of the Nazi officers. The Auschwitz Memorial criticized the inclusion of this scene and said that it “is not only dangerous foolishness & caricature. It also welcomes future deniers. We honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy.” With that in mind, this scene was definitely hard to watch. There were other scenes that depicted how inhumane the conditions of the camps were but this one felt like it was added for the sake of shock value.
Overall, I really enjoyed watching Hunters and easily consider to add it to my list of best new shows of 2020. From the action, friendships, and incredible plot progression, the show found ways to only get better as the story continued. The ending of the season, which I have no doubt will cause controversy if the show gets another season, will lead to a very interesting challenge for The Hunters. I was expecting a simple action series but Hunters ended up being so much more.
Hunters is available to stream now through Amazon Prime Video.
Hunters, Season 1
I really enjoyed watching Hunters and easily consider to add it to my list of best new shows of 2020. From the action, friendships, and incredible plot progression, the show found ways to only get better as the story continued.