movie review

The Hunt mows down the left and the right in raucous satire

The Hunt mows down the left and the right in raucous satire

The Hunt movie review Betty Gilpin as Crystal in The Hunt
Betty Gilpin as Crystal in The Hunt Photo Credit: Patti Perret/Universal Pictures
The Hunt movie review Athena (Hilary Swank) and Crystal (Betty Gilpin) in The Hunt
Athena (Hilary Swank) and Crystal (Betty Gilpin) in The Hunt. Photo Credit: Patti Perret/Universal Pictures
The Hunt movie review Peter (Vince Pisani), Athena (Hilary Swank), Liberty (Teri Wyble) and Kelly (Hannah Alline) in The Hunt
Peter (Vince Pisani), Athena (Hilary Swank), Liberty (Teri Wyble), and Kelly (Hannah Alline) in The Hunt. Photo Credit: Patti Perret/Universal Pictures
The Hunt movie review Betty Gilpin as Crystal in The Hunt
The Hunt movie review Athena (Hilary Swank) and Crystal (Betty Gilpin) in The Hunt
The Hunt movie review Peter (Vince Pisani), Athena (Hilary Swank), Liberty (Teri Wyble) and Kelly (Hannah Alline) in The Hunt

After review, The Hunt harks to the Alexander Payne film, Citizen Ruth.

That 1996 dramedy had recent Oscar winner Laura Dern as a spray paint-huffing vagrant who becomes a cause celebre when she gets pregnant (again) and gets caught in the middle of an abortion-issue war between pro-choicers and pro-lifers, each with their own selfish agenda. She's trapped between the left and the right, and she has no choice but to fend for herself.

Something similar happens in The Hunt (except without the abortion talk) with lots of guns.

Much like Payne did with his debut film nearly 25 years ago, this black comedy (which was supposed to be released last fall, but was shelved due to our president saying the movie would "inflame and cause chaos") is out to take the vitriol — and a lot of blood — out of both sides of the aisle, in the broadest, most bullet-riddled way possible.

The heroine this time around is Betty Gilpin (of the Netflix show GLOW), an Afghan war veteran who is one of the many people who gets drugged and whisked away to an unfamiliar place and ultimately, hunted for sport. It turns out they are the prey for a group of rich liberals (led by Hilary Swank, all elitist and bloodthirsty) who are heavily armed and ready to mow down some right-wing deplorables.

Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, and Ike Barinholtz are some of the conservative-minded captives who are also running for their lives. (Viewers might not be concerned about their well-being for much of the movie.)

This whole thing is about Gilpin's badass soldier, who easily slips into kill-or-be-killed mode and properly begins taking out these upper-crust NPR listeners one-by-one. Gilpin, an amusing, eccentric actress, appears to take wicked glee in playing her heroine as both quick-witted and quietly unhinged, virtually unfazed by all the insanity that's going on all around her because she's been down this road before.

Perhaps the umpteenth retelling of the short story The Most Dangerous Game (our favorite adaption: the '90s flick Surviving the Game, where Ice-T gets hunted by Rutger Hauer and Gary Busey?), Hunt comes to us courtesy of producer and TV impresario Damon Lindelof, who wrote the script with Nick Cuse (son of frequent collaborator Carlton Cuse).

Along with director Craig Zobel, who has directed episodes of The Leftovers and Westworld and already tackled the subject of gullible yokels in the films Great World of Sound and Compliance, all use this film to gut — figuratively and literally — both the red and blue state folk, who are both portrayed here as self-centered, ill-informed, and utterly sanctimonious.

Call it an examination of social media, which is literally a daily, never-ending cacophony of loudmouthed people on both sides, constantly drowning each other out to show they're better than the other. 

Indeed, no matter how silly and savage The Hunt gets, it's still nowhere as insane as the news we get on an hourly basis.