(On Cable TV, December 2012) Alongside the kind of frantic urgency that characterizes much of the so-called “thriller” genre these days, it’s a refreshing change of pace to find a film like The Hunter, which trades hyperkinetic editing for meditative long-shots, and character study in lieu of shootouts. Willem Dafoe is a convincing presence as a professional mercenary hunting down a rare creature while dealing with various opponents: He says a lot without saying much, and seems perfectly suited to an introvert lead character. (Meanwhile, Sam Neill also makes an impression in a generally unsympathetic role.) Dafoe’s rugged features reflect that the real star of The Hunter is the Tasmanian countryside: stark and colorful, majestic and harsh. The plot isn’t particularly complicated, but viewers sympathetic to a slower pace will find much to like in the way the film unfolds slowly, gradually ratcheting the tension on its taciturn protagonist. There’s some unexpected philosophical content here, tackling upon environmentalism and the choices that we make in-between duty and emotion. There’s a surprising amount of silence in what is supposed to be a thriller and while the result may not thrill those looking for a bit more movement, the result excels at what it intends to do.