The disappointment that is Hunters on Amazon Prime

Starring Al Pacino, and a strong cast. The story should be great: hunting Nazis in 1970’s America. But it is shit. The acting is pretty good, but it it is written by someone who saw Inglorious Basterds, decided he could do that, and then proved with every second that no, he couldn’t.
It is over the top, but not enough for that to be its thing. It is anachronistic (peanut allergies on a 197x plane ride ?) but not enough to be deliberate. But the worst is the hyperbolic glurge. There are more than enough actual concentration camp atrocities to choose from to show how bad the Nazis were, or to illustrate the evil of any particular Nazi. But this show makes up its own, which doesn’t help the story any, but cheapens, and makes it that much easier for fucknuts to discount, the actual things that happened. I quit early in the 2nd episode. Please let me know if I somehow missed something and should pick it up again.

I heard that Al Pacino reprised his favorite role: Al Pacino.
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I’ve only watched the first episode, but I enjoyed it well enough for what it was. Definitely comic-booky and over-the-top, though. This is certainly not a realistic, sober story. It’s not Munich. I can understand people being disappointed with it.

Well, I guess I had the advantage of not knowing anything about this series going in.

My jaw hit the floor in the very first scene and it just drew me in. The series takes you through a whole range of emotions. From horrifying to sad, to darkly hilarious.

I freaking love this show.

I just finished watching the series last night. I’m…not quite sure how I feel about it.

The Good:

I thought it was very well-acted. Contra what russian heel heard, I thought Al Pacino did a very good job playing a complex character, and most of the rest of the cast was also very strong. I thought it was an interesting mix of 1970s-style gritty paranoid thriller with modern production values and pacing. I thought, for the most part, it avoided Netflix-style bloat, and it kept the story moving. I appreciated that it actually acknowledged and addressed PTSD and the moral and psychological costs of violence, to both the victims and the perpetrators.

But…

The Bad:

Randomly inserted into the 1970s-style gritty paranoid thriller are fourth-wall breaking, blackly comic fantasy sequences. I found the radical tone shift jarring and off-putting, and I don’t think it worked artistically. Still, I freely acknowledge that’s firmly in YMMV territory, and it’s at least a defensible artistic decision. There are other decisions that I think are a lot less defensible.

I agree with Isosleepy on the made-up Nazi atrocities. It’s not that the series created fictional atrocities - it has fictional Nazi war criminals, so it makes up fictional atrocities for them, which is fine as far as it goes. But the atrocities that they create are frankly kind of silly. They’re played straight, and the actors involved do a good job of conveying the horror, but…they’re just so over-the-top and intrinsically campy that they wind up unintentionally undercutting the true banal horror of the Holocaust. The show notes, viewable in “x-ray” mode on some devices, make a claim for these scenes to the effect that “This particular atrocity is an original creation of Hunters, but it’s a fiction that illustrates a larger truth.” Which, frankly, seems to me like a cheap, pseudo-profound cop-out.

Which is closely related to another serious problem with the series. It has frequent text-overs that insist “Yes, this shit really happened”, generally in reference to its portrayal of Operation Paperclip. Except, no that shit didn’t really happen, at least not as portrayed in Hunters. There is plenty of ground to criticize Operation Paperclip, but Hunters badly mangles and ham-fists it. It has one particularly bad scene where it creates a “dramatic re-enactment” of a high-level meeting of American officials in 1945 discussing Operation Paperclip, with fictional anti-Semitic dialogue and a fictional version of the operation’s parameters, then insists via text-over that “Yes, this shit really happened,” except, it’s, y’know, a fictional scene with fictional dialogue and fictional “facts”, so, no, it didn’t really happen.

And then there’s the fact that the series is basically a forceful argument in favor of President Trump’s immigration policies, which I’m pretty sure is the exact opposite of the creators’ intent. We get a bit giving us four safety tips to identify Nazis, of which tips 2 and 4 are both “white people”, because while not all white people are Nazis, “all Nazis are white people.” And, per the series, literally every European war refugee in the U.S. is either a concentration camp survivor or a Nazi war criminal actively plotting to create a Fourth Reich. Literally every single one. Going by the series’ logic, Trump’s “extreme vetting” is not only justified, it probably doesn’t go far enough. After all, while not every Muslim is an Islamic State fighter, all Islamic State fighters are Muslims. And if you’re fleeing an area formerly controlled by IS, unless you can prove you were persecuted by IS, you pretty much must be an IS fighter yourself. Hell, even if you have proof that you were persecuted by IS, you might just be an IS fighter who murdered an IS victim and stole their identity.

Can’t a show (especially a comic book kind) just be a show with out having any deeper meaning to it?

[Posing from work, so I had to break this up…]

Hunters also has two deeply toxic elements, which unfortunately aren’t unique to it.

The Hunters share a super-power with pretty much all fictional vigilantes, which is sadly lacked by police, prosecutors, courts, journalists, intelligence analysts, and lynch mobs. They can unerringly identify the bad guys. They literally never make a mistake. Every single person they think is guilty is actually guilty. They never, ever, target an innocent person. They never even overestimate the guilt of a person - they only ever underestimate it.

Even more toxic, Hunters perpetuates the truly dangerous myth that torture is both an effective and a necessary tool for intelligence gathering. [text-over/]This shit is not true[/text-over]

It’s easy, and lazy, and toxic, to righteously and smugly criticize those in authority for failing to punish the guilty, and to indict the audience for complacency and indifference, when you get to give your fictional characters magically infallible powers of identifying the guilty, who also all magically have exactly the information those characters are looking for, and magically break under torture to reveal that information in a coherent, accurate, and timely manner (and they totally deserve the torture anyway, because magical ability to identify bad guys).

It absolutely can. But the show itself wants to have a deeper meaning. “Yes, this shit really happened.” “Do you know anyone who could be a contestant on this show? Do you? Do you!?

If you’re going to portray Nazis as campy, over-the-top villains, ala Raiders of the Lost Ark or Hellboy in a campy, over-the-top production, I have no problem with that. But if you want to portray the real horrors of the Holocaust, insisting that your fictions “illustrate a larger truth” and that “this shit really happened”, then it becomes problematic when you don’t actually offer a realistic portrayal of what shit really happened.

When the show bends over backwards to have deeper meaning? When its about a subject matter that is as dark and tragic as any in history? My two cents is that whoever ran this show wasnt good enough.

+1

You can’t have it both ways but wanting to “just be entertainment” one moment, and wanting to be profound the next.

We just got around to watching this. It’s a very strange show. It mixes genuinely moving scenes and sometimes fantastic filmmaking with strange Tarantino-esque interstitials that mostly don’t work and are sometimes terrible. It’s a weird mix of earnest holocaust scenes, followed by slapstick or silly 1970’s grindhouse-style scenes.

The tone of the show is just all over the place. Part of the problem is that the show seems to be aware of its borderline offensiveness, and tries to compensate by lecturing the audience about anti-semitism and the wages of violence through strange interludes, while simultaneously exploiting both.

Still, we enjoyed it. The acting is very good, Pacino doesn’t chew the scenery and actually turns in one of the best performances I’ve seen from him in years, and the show is stylish and the action scenes are well shot. If you like over-the-top shows in the Tarantino fashion, you’ll probably enjoy this if you don’t think about it too hard.

I just finished it. I enjoyed it mostly. Until the last episode. Besides the unnecessary twist, can anyone explain the last few minutes for me? It left me very confused. Spoiler if you think it’s necessary.

Saw the first episode, didn’t really like it. Started watching episode 2 in case it god better, didn’t finish it.

It’s just not my kind of thing, not any one part of it, it is just not holding my attention. I don’t know if that helps anyone evaluate this show except to point out the obvious if you read the thread, this is not a show that will appeal to everyone.

I really liked the show.
As for the last few seconds, I’m hoping, for the sake of the show, it’s not real. Maybe they just dress/act that way at home.
OTOH, for all the people arguing that the show has too many made up elements considering how it portrays itself as being at least somewhat historically accurate, well, there’s nothing accurate about it now.

Having said that, I didn’t read the comics (didn’t even know it was based on comics) but in the last thread about the show, I feel like someone mentioned that it’s going in the direction it appears to be going.

The surviving Nazis snatched Joe and brought him to a hideout in South America for unknown reasons (it’s pretty clearly supposed to be weird and mysterious that they singled him out to snatch and then treat him as a reluctant guest).

That hideout is a plantation, where a number of seemingly identical young boys live. This is a pretty clear cinematic reference to The Boys From Brazil, and the implication seems to be that these boys are clones, possibly super-soldiers, possibly clones of Adolph Hitler, possibly a mix of the two.

And then we see what is clearly a very much alive Adolph Hitler, who has apparently been hiding out in South America since faking his death and escaping at the end of WWII. He calls the Colonel “Eva”, so she is apparently Eva Braun, also apparently alive and well after faking her death and escaping Germany, although in her case, splitting apparently her time between the plantation and personally supervising Fourth Reich operations in the U.S.

The idea that Adolph Hitler faked his death and escaped to South America was a popular idea in pulp fiction for decades after WWII. It was also a fringe conspiracy theory that a lot of people took very seriously. Stalin himself apparently at least entertained the possibility.

It’s not based on any specific comic book (a comic book based on the series was published to help promote the series). It takes general inspiration from the comic books of the 1960s and 1970s, along with 1970s conspiracy thriller novels and movies. Comic books are an element of the plot and the characters and are thematically important. The framing and cinematography of a lot of the scenes visually reference comic books. The main character works part-time as a clerk at a comic book store and is a big comic book geek, along with his two best friends. He sees the Hunters, at least at first, as literal super heroes, while Meyer Offerman constantly tries to convince him that his simplistic comic book-inspired morality just doesn’t apply to the real world.

But there is no pre-existing Hunters comic book.

Thanks gdave. So I saw the same thing. I was puzzled about the Joe connection and thought I’d missed something earlier that explained it. And they never revealed who Harriet is talking to on the phone, right? She specifically told that person that the Colonel was dead, didn’t she?

And some do today. Im shocked that some Ghost Adventures type fake show hasnt tried to contact Adolfs’ “spirit”.

Exactly my experience. I only made it minutes into the second episode. The corny montage sequence introducing the gang was enough for me.

We watched it. We liked it.