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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

CineHawk Review: “The Hunt”


“The Hunt,” directed by Craig Zobel and produced by Blumhouse Productions, is a satirical action thriller about a cabal of sadistic liberal elites who embark on a ruthless game of slaughter aimed at those whom they have deemed “deplorable.”

The film is seeing the light of day after its initial release date in 2019 was canceled due to its proximity to the tragic El Paso and Dayton shootings, as well as subsequent condemnation by President Donald Trump.

As befitting a Blumhouse Production film, “The Hunt” boasts a wide assortment of violent thrills for genre fans. From the opening scene, the hunters are utterly vicious, brutally executing one of their quarry with a pen and shoe heel while on a plane to their killing ground. When the titular game begins, they spare almost no expense in inflicting all the horrors they can on the “deplorables,” with even the cache of weapons provided affording a minimal advantage. 

After the gory deaths of a few false leads, one of whom is played by Emma Robberts, we finally meet the actual main character, Crystal Creasey. Portrayed by Betty Gilpin, Crystal quickly turns the tables on her captors, picking them off one by one using her tenacity and military training. Her backstory is intentionally left vague, as it plays into one of the film’s twists, but it has the side effect of providing little depth to her character. 

Hilary Swank takes the reigns as the film’s lead villain, Athena Stone. Revealing herself quite later in the movie once all of her compatriots are disposed of, Athena’s introduction immediately shines a whole new light on the impetus of the Hunt and the motivations of the antagonists. Swank plays up Athena’s elitist hypocrisy. Her beliefs in social justice are just rhetoric, which she uses to make herself feel superior to the “deplorables” and to justify inflicting violence on them. Underneath her posh exterior, Athena is as proficient in violence as the lead character, culminating in a final dragout fight in the film’s climax.

Aside from Crystal and Athena, the rest of the characters do not particularly stand out. Serving merely as entertaining additions to the film’s body count, many of them are given little characterization and the rest are reduced to exaggerated caricatures of their respectives’ political corners. 

This deficiency in the characters is just a symptom of a larger problem: the film is not subtle or clever enough to create the meaningful satire it clearly aspires to be. If an audience member has already heard the premise, they will probably be able to decipher how the film will play out. 

For all its pretensions, “The Hunt” ultimately has nothing profound to say about the political divide of our country, outside exploiting it for the passing cathartic thrills of watching one’s ideological adversaries meet gruesome ends. While the beginning of the third act certainly subverts audience expectations, it is not enough to save the film’s shallow, vapid narrative. 

That said, “The Hunt” offers an entertaining cinematic experience. The action is well choreographed and impactful. Swank and Gilpin, with the material they have to work with, give compelling and memorable performances, while the rest of cast manages to keep their thinly written characters funny enough to stay just above the threshold of annoyance. 

For those looking for an over-the-top, mindless action thriller, “The Hunt” is more than satisfactory. However, to those seeking thoughtful commentary in divided times, it falls painfully short.

6 Hawks out of 10

“The Hunt” is currently available to rent for $20 through cable systems and online services such as iTunes, Amazon Prime and Sky.


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