Are You My Mother?: A Review of ‘Hunters’
'Hunters' on Amazon Prime is set in 1977 America, and aspires to be a timely exploration into the popularity of Nazism in the present day. Plus it boasts of having Al Pacino in the cast
In the second episode (there are 10) of Amazon Prime’s Limited Series Hunters, one of the main villains, a young American-born Nazi named Biff (Dylan Baker) gives us his ‘Are you my mother?’ monologue to an American politician taking time off in a bowling alley. Malevolent, creepy, and disturbing, it’s one high moment in the series, and could very well be Baker’s calling card in the near-future for plum acting assignments.
With a quasi-comic book approach that I can safely say aspires to be Amazon’s version of The Watchmen of Damon Lindelof which streamed on HBO Go last year; there are, on paper, much to recommend and get excited about with Hunters. It tackles the popularity of neo-Nazis in America by conjuring up a 1977 where several high-ranking Nazis escaped to America (and not South America), and are lying in wait to infiltrate the government, enter the mainstream, and bring about the birth of the Fourth Reich.
This alternative history premise is reenforced with flashback scenes of World War II and the concentration camps. It can boast of a cast that includes Al Pacino as Meyer, the head of a ragtag bunch of Nazi Hunters, and has Lena Olin as The Colonel, leader of this Nazi movement. Created by David Weil, the series has even been called timely given how Trump America saw neo-Nazis proudly coming out of the woodwork.
As the main character Jonah, one may remember Logan Lerman, now all of 28, and constantly cursing like there’s no tomorrow; as he played Percy Jackson in the film adaptions. Here he’s a grandson of a dear friend of Meyer (Pacino), recruited to the ranks of the Hunters after his grandmother is murdered by one of these Nazis-in-hiding. The touches to bring home its New York 1977 are neat—such as Jonah’s first scene of coming out of a Star Wars screening with his friends, and all the talk about the 'Son of Sam' serial killer.
And the parallel narrative that features Jerrika Hinton as Millie, an African-American female FBI agent is a wonderful counterpoint to expand the Nazi rage towards not Jews alone. This smartly allows the appeal of the series, and extends its relatability. The concentration camp scenes owes much to Spielberg; and the presentation of the Hunters is outright Tarantino-country—so we know who Weil idolizes and was influenced by.
My issue with Hunters would be the series never coalesces to be more than a sum of its parts.
Meyer and Jonah are properly fleshed out, but not so the support cast (which was one of the strengths of Watchmen). Except for Biff, even the Nazis lack enough build-up, despite the promise held out as they’re introduced. The tonality can’t seem to decide on exactly where it wants to end up—so it flip-flops between being hip and flippant, then being straight ahead and mainstream.
With Hunters, there are lots of good little bits to carry us through the 10 episodes, but it never transcends and soars as we hope it would.
TIP: If you have Amazon Prime, you can’t do better than revisiting their selection of Coen Brothers films, the still gripping No Country for Old Men, and the rambunctious The Big Lebowski—these two are modern classics, and show off the true range of the brothers.
Photos from IMdB