November 21, 2012 -- This odd adventure drama set in Tasmania follows a professional hunter on a quest for one of the world's rarest creatures, but it turns out the hunter is himself being watched and hunted. This game of cat and mouse and bigger cat gets more deadly as it goes along.
Noted actor Willem Dafoe (“Spider-Man”) plays the hunter, Martin, who is hired by a mysterious corporation called Red Leaf, to find and kill a rare animal called a Tasmanian Tiger (this is, or was, a real animal, according to Wikipedia). The tiger itself is thought to be extinct, but there have been numerous sightings. Some think the tiger (related to the Tasmanian Devil) secretes a deadly toxin in its bite. This toxin could be a valuable military weapon. Martin is assigned the task of finding and killing the tiger, and bringing back blood and tissue samples for analysis.
Martin thinks this is a straightforward job. He finds out too late that the blood and tissue samples of the tiger are valuable enough to kill for. Arriving in Tasmania, he stays at the remote home of Lucy Armstrong (Frances O'Connor of “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”) and her two children, Sass (Morgana Davies of the TV series “Terra Nova”) and Bike (Finn Woodlock). Lucy is beautiful and Martin identifies strongly with Bike, a young boy of few words who, like Martin, is a loner. He also meets a mysterious friend of the family, Jack (Sam Neill of “Daybreakers”) who leads him to the remote wilderness where a tiger has been spotted.
Martin uses maps, traps and GPS to methodically search for the elusive tiger. He returns to the Armstrong home periodically to get fresh supplies and to report back to Red Leaf on his progress. During his visits he becomes increasingly attached to the Armstrong family.
Martin discovers the body of Lucy Armstrong's husband, missing for months. He was murdered. Martin hides the body and tells no one. Soon, he discovers his own life is in danger as well. He confronts Jack, who is involved in this some way, and tells him there is no stopping the forces that have been unleashed. No matter how many people die, Red Leaf will just keep sending people to Tasmania until they get what they want, but Martin is determined to put a stop to this corporate madness, once and for all.
This powerful drama is strongly anchored by Willem Dafoe's nuanced performance as a hard loner who is softened by a vulnerable family who finds a place in his heart. Cold, corporate calculations which leave no room for humanity lead to tragedy in this uncompromising story with an interesting ending. Shot on location in Tasmania, the film also features the interesting scenery and wildlife of the area, even wildlife which is reproduced with digital animation. This film rates a B.
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