'Hunters' Review: Entertaining but not for the frail heart

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Amazon Prime Video series Hunters follows a group of Nazi hunters operating in New York during the 1970s. They have discovered that hundreds of high-ranking Nazi officials were able to escape Germany in the aftermath of Hitler’s downfall. Now living in the US, the Nazis are conspiring to create a Fourth Reich in the United States. So the hunters take it upon themselves to bring the Nazis to justice and thwart their evil plans. The series is said to be inspired by true events but naturally it is highly dramatised for entertainment purposes.
Half way through the 90-minute season premiere of Hunters, Meyer Offerman, the wealthy concentration-camp survivor essayed by Hollywood legend Al Pacino, tells a young man, “You should read the Torah more. It is the original comic book.” The scene alone is enough to understand the approach that the show’s creative team leaders David Weil and Jordan Peele would have had in their minds for Hunters right from the word go. So obviously the series was always going to be more comic book than realistic. If it isn’t obvious enough, the young man, Jonah Heidelbaum, the series’ other protagonist and the grandson of another concentration-camp survivor Ruth Heidelbaum, is introduced as a comic book enthusiast. His favorite pastime is discussing Batman, Robin, and his other favorite characters with two of his best friends.

Some of the flashback scenes in Hunters transport us to the Auschwitz concentration camp where we get to see glimpses of the torture inflicted upon the Jews by the Nazis. Now, we have already seen a lot of it in the Hollywood movies based on Holocaust but here we get to see a whole new dimension of cruelty. There is a scene in which a German officer keeps killing his Jew prisoners every time they sing out of tune. There is another in which a Nazi prison guard forces his helpless prisoners to form a human chess board in order to take revenge from a Jew chess champion he could never beat in a chess competition. Interestingly, the series’ title design too involves the miniature versions of the characters battling it out on a chess board.
Hunters, occasionally, suffers from self-indulgence, uneven pacing and various other issues. While it does have its moments, the series on a whole is far from being perfect. But is it watchable or not? Well, the Nazis under Adolf Hitler contributed to the deaths of roughly six million Jews in concentration camps, gas chambers, and elsewhere as killing Jews became a sport. And so it is poetic justice when Jews go about killing Nazis as if it were some kind of recreational activity. That alone makes Hunters an engaging viewing experience as long as one is willing to suspend one’s disbelief. And, as one would expect, Al Pacino’s Meyer Offerman is really the best thing about the show. Hunters is funny, bloody, entertaining, and at the same time it serves as a great reminder of what happens when ordinary human beings turn into monsters. However, it is best to avoid it if you are allergic to gore and violence.
Rating: 8.5/10

A version of this review was first published in The Sunday Guardian.

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