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Hunters First Reviews: Al Pacino, Logan Lerman Lead Vengeance Tale Packing Nazi-Punching Thrills

Is it too audacious or not enough? Critics flip-flop on Amazon Prime series.

by | February 18, 2020 | Comments

Amazon’s Hunters has piqued television fans’ interest by selling Al Pacino as a killer of Nazis in 1970s America. Does the pulpy series pay off on that curiosity? The first reviews, based on the first five episodes, are rather mixed, but the premise retains its promise even in some of the less-favorable takes. The dark-comedic drama seems heavily inspired by comic books and the work of Quentin Tarantino with lots of violence, and whether that’s respectful of the Holocaust or whether the pastiche and mix of tones works is up for serious debate.

In addition to Pacino, the series stars Logan Lerman, Jerrika Hinton, Josh Radnor, Carol Kane, Tiffany Boone, Greg Austin, Louis Ozawa, Kate Mulvany, Saul Rubinek, Dylan Baker, and Lena Olin.

Produced by Amazon Studios, Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, and Sonar Entertainment, Hunters was created by David Weil, who serves as executive producer and co-showrunner alongside executive producer Nikki Toscano. The series is also executive produced by Peele and Win Rosenfeld from Monkeypaw Productions, Nelson McCormick, David Ellender from Sonar Entertainment, and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who directed the pilot.

Here’s what critics are saying about Hunters:


Is this essential peak television?

Hunters season 1 keyart (Amazon Prime Video)
(Photo by Amazon Prime Video)

Click image to see full poster in a new tab.

It’s very much something that people need to see right now.
Megan Sunday, The Spool

An astonishingly good series that blends exploitation films, revenge movies, a brilliant cast, and a killer soundtrack.
Alex Maldy, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Hunters is a lot of fun.
Merrill Barr, Forbes

The series manages to deliver enough Nazi-hunting thrills to make it worth a watch, if not an immediate binge-watch.
Kevin Yeoman, Screen Rant

I toggled back and forth between thinking the show was good or bad — occasionally in the same moment.
Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

I’m still struggling to decide if the show is quality TV, and if I like it or not. What I’m sure of is that I find it fascinating and while I may not necessary want to recommend it, I want to talk to people about it.
Dan Feinberg, Hollywood Reporter


Is it good for the Jews?

Al Pacino and Logan Lerman in Hunters season 1 (Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)
(Photo by Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)

The show pays respect to the history of the Jewish people above all else, something that series creator David Weil clearly holds dear.
Kevin Lever, Tell-Tale TV

It may require an almost Talmudic level of study to determine if Hunters is good or bad for the Jews, but I’m willing to participate.
Dan Feinberg, Hollywood Reporter

Given today’s climate, both Jews and the Holocaust deserve something better and a bit more dignified.
Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist


How is Al Pacino’s performance?

Hunters season 1 (Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)
(Photo by Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)

Al Pacino is really good as the Professor X of this story even if his thick Jewish accent can sometimes come off a bit comical.
Alex Maldy, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Pacino is surprisingly reserved here, playing Meyer as someone perpetually weary.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

The legendary actor keeps the volume of his Germanic growl at a low rumble, which makes Meyer’s rare outbursts more powerful.
Kristen Baldwin, Entertainment Weekly

There’s a confident wisdom and impish cleverness to what Pacino is doing, a sense of fun that comes from watching the wheels spin in this iconic star’s head. It’s just hard to judge it using traditional metrics of quality.
Dan Feinberg, Hollywood Reporter


What about the rest of the cast?

Saul Rubinek, Carol Kane, Tiffany Boone, Louis Ozawa, Josh Radnor in Hunters season 1 (Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)
(Photo by Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)

Carol Kane is, of course, fantastic.
Megan Sunday, The Spool

On a show packed with remarkable talent, [Greg] Austin manages to stand out.
Kevin Lever, Tell-Tale TV

Despite Austin’s excellent work, it sometimes feels like [his character] wandered in from some other show.
Megan Sunday, The Spool

The main character is Lerman’s Jonah Heidelbaum, which is Hunters‘ biggest problem…He’s a charm-less character with only one dimension, and Lerman’s surly performance amplifies it.
Liam Mathews, TV Guide

Logan Lerman is the show’s actual lead, and holds his own against his older co-stars. Still, the degree to which any of this cartoonish mayhem feels real is largely a credit to the gravity Pacino provides in certain moments.
Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone


Is the show well-written?

Henry Hunter Hall, Logan Lerman, and Caleb Emery in Hunters season 1 (Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)
(Photo by Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)

The first five episodes of Hunters are taut and intricately plotted…occasionally the writing feels facile.
Kristen Baldwin, Entertainment Weekly

The dialogue has a tryhard, wound-too-tight quality. The quips are too long and too crude, with a lack of rhythm.
Liam Mathews, TV Guide

The storytelling so far is dutifully on the nose, making those kinds of transitions feasible.
Christian Toto, HollywoodInToto.com


What are critics comparing the show to?

Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds (Weinstein Company)

One concentration camp flashback is shot in black-and-white until finally a single object is presented in color, like the little girl’s red coat from Schindler’s List; suddenly, the scene is less about the suffering of the people in it and more about the filmmakers’ love of Steven Spielberg.
Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

It’s a tonal Hindenburg – Tarantino-esque one minute, Schindler’s List the next. For those aghast at the comic detours taken by Jojo Rabbit, this is infinitely worse, sloppier, and crude.
Christian Toto, HollywoodInToto.com

Hunters makes you feel like you’re watching a really long Tarantino knockoff that lacks the director’s humor and audaciousness.
Liam Mathews, TV Guide

This show seems to borrow much of its aesthetic from Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds…but it fails to get the alchemical balance right.
Daniel D’Addario, Variety


Does it try to pack in too much?

Kate Mulvany in Hunters season 1 (Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)
(Photo by Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)

There is a lot going on in this show…so much that Weil opts to open Hunters with a 90-minute premiere episode that frequently buckles under its own weight.
Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

[It] lives in the extremes. It can be sober and thoughtful in one moment, gleefully trashy in the very next.”
Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

Cartoonish splash-page montages exist back-to-back with unflinching flashbacks set in concentration camps. It takes a deft hand to encompass material like this – and that deft hand is severely lacking here.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm


Does the show have trouble balancing its tone?

The balancing act works pretty well if you can stomach each extreme
Ben Travers, IndieWire

Hunters deploys its surreal (and much-needed) humor strategically.”
Kristen Baldwin, Entertainment Weekly

Hunters is a story that should not be as funny as it is nor should it be as shocking, but it works in both ways.
Alex Maldy, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

As the tone becomes broader, it pushed me away from the tight involvement I initially felt to the premise and the players.
Peter Martin, ScreenAnarchy

It’s just a shame that there seems to be so much distance between what Hunters wants to say and what it actually expresses.
Judy Berman, Time Magazine


What is the show’s portrayal of Nazis like?

Lena Olin in Hunters season 1 (Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)
(Photo by Christopher Saunders / Amazon Studios)

The Nazis of Hunters are, at least on the surface, just folks…they aren’t manifestations of supernatural evil and Hunters benefits from it.
Megan Sunday, The Spool

Opting to portray the Nazis as a hierarchy of cartoon villains, Weil makes them so uniformly crafty and fearsome that you can imagine contemporary neo-Nazis watching Hunters and feeling pretty good about their forebears.
Judy Berman, Time Magazine

Hunters wants to have it both ways, depicting its villains as both horrifically dangerous and clownishly incompetent, sometimes in the same breath.
Kevin Yeoman, Screen Rant


 And what about the Holocaust? 

It respects the drama inherent to any Holocaust story while still allowing fans to enjoy the fictionalized quest for vengeance.
Ben Travers, IndieWire

It doesn’t divorce the Holocaust from reality and it doesn’t trivialize it, but it certainly sensationalizes aspects of it in ways that left me feeling uncomfortable.
Dan Feinberg, Hollywood Reporter

Hunters will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, February 21.

Hunters: Season 1 (2020)
63%

#1
Adjusted Score: 71.984%
Critics Consensus: Propelled by a strong cast and even stronger sense of justice, Hunters' stylish first season doesn't always hit the mark, but when it does, it strikes pulpy paydirt.
Synopsis: From Executive Producer Jordan Peele, Hunters, follows a rag-tag team of Nazi Hunters on their quest for righteous revenge in... [More]

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