Imagine Quentin Tarantino’s ragtag group of Nazi-hunting soldiers, warts and all with their foul mouthed vocabulary and brutally violent tendencies, but instead of having them fight their good fight during the Second World War, place them in a contemporary 1970s New York where they track down high-ranking Nazi officials who managed to escape Europe at the end of the war and continue their horrendously evil plans of terror and carnage while hiding out undercover as average, everyday American citizens. Well, that’s what Prime Video series Hunters brought to the table in it’s first season, back in 2020.
Led by wealthy philanthropist and Jewish man, Meyer Offerman (Al Pacino), the Hunters dedicate their lives and various skill sets to unravelling a Nazi plot involving poisoning America’s corn syrup supply with a slow-killing toxin to reduce the population and take over the country. Taking down these heinous human beings is Jonah (Logan Lerman), who becomes involved with the Hunters after the murder of his grandma who was associated with Meyer Offerman.
However, Jonah’s penchant for solving difficult puzzles and riddles leads him to the revelation that Meyer is not the man he has been claiming he is. In fact, he is the head Nazi that the Hunters have been looking for the entire time, but has attempted to reform his ways despite the pain and death he has caused along the way.
Frustrated by the lies, Jonah executes Meyer, and the Hunters are disbanded despite Jonah’s wish to travel to Europe and hunt Nazi’s there. With the team no longer working together, this leads to Joe Mizushima (Louis Ozawa), to be kidnapped by the Colonel, the supposed mastermind behind the poisoning attempt. However, not everything is at it seems with the Colonel, who takes Joe to Argentina where it’s revealed the Colonel is the very much so alive Eva Braun, who is living with the also very much so alive, Adolf Hitler.
The second season of this outlandishly heightened action-thriller series begins two years after the events of it’s predecessor, with the now long-haired and bearded Jonah living in Paris with his new fiancé, but very much so still hell-bent on tracking down and killing Nazi’s in Europe. Whispers emerge of a high-profile target forces Jonah to reunite the Hunters that he can contact, including Roxy (Tiffany Boone), Mindy (Carol Kane) and Lonny (Josh Radnor), as well as FBI agent Millie Morris (Jerrika Hinton). However, time has passed and people have changed, and the dynamic of the group may not be as focused as they were in the years past.
While Jonah leads the new era of Hunters, the show also takes the audience back two years before the events of the first season, following Meyer Offerman as he begins recruiting his Nazi-hunting team, and the reasons behind his newfound reformation.
The back and forth narrative structure is an interesting choice for Hunters. While the first season showed its fair share of flashbacks and cutaways, they were more often than not used as cold opens to an episode, or a cliffhanging reveal for the end of one. Whereas now, there is a fair amount of time spent in the early 1970s with Meyer, and the late 1970s with Jonah.
The structure of the story this way does lend to some fascinating insight and back story into characters who didn’t receive that foundation setting treatment the first time around. The focus on Meyer and the rejection of his inhumane past gives more validity to the seemingly rushed twist that revealed his Nazi past. Another character who benefits from this story is Lonny Flash, who has old demons resurface in the present day, of which are given more context when he and Meyer meet on the set of one of his B-grade movies.
In the present day of Hunters (or the late 1970s), Jonah lives a stress-inducing double life, as he has not yet revealed to his fiancé about his violent pastime. His fiancé, Clara (Emily Rudd), becomes increasingly suspicious of Jonah’s secrecy when he begins spending more time outside of Paris to pursue Josef Mengele, also known as The Angel of Death. While investigating the whereabouts of Mengele, Jonah is reunited with Sister Harriet (Kate Mulvany), who is working with welcomed addition to the cast, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Chava Apfelbaum, who’s relation to Jonah is stronger that firs thought.
Jonah’s stress only increases when professional psychopath and resident Nazi hitman, Travis (Greg Austin) is given a second chance to prove his worth to Eva and Adolf to track down Jonah and kill him once and for all.
While there are interesting elements and plot points happening in both timelines, unfortunately they don’t gel too well tonally, and they both feel like departures to the bombastic, chaotic and more fun approach the tone took on in the first season. It does make sense that genuine character drama should unfold with these characters based on the traumatic experiences they have all been through leading up to this point, but this series takes a very long time to explore this, resulting in a slow-burn, dramatic atmosphere for the first few episodes, that feels disjointed from the first season.
When something interesting occurs, or a reveal or twist begins adding momentum to either timeline, the opposing story is reduced to filler, padding episode lengths or justifying it’s 8 episode season. There’s nothing inherently wrong with either storyline, as stated previously, both are engaging and add substance, layers, and context vital to certain characters. It’s just the fact that far too much time is spent on this without any of that visceral excitement or action packed thrill that made Hunters interesting in the first place.
A highlight of the first season, and someone who gets to continue with their insanity is Travis, who is just as unhinged in the most entertaining way once more. The nonchalant nature of Travis’ psychopathic tendencies, which include lots of mental and physical torture is one of the only elements that is drastically holding a grip onto the tonal feeling that Hunters initially created. Also teased throughout the first few episodes, Joe has been under Hitler’s watch for two years, and the repercussions of the world’s most evil man having one of the world’s deadliest killers imprisoned for so long can lead to some disastrous consequences… and not necessarily for the Nazi’s.
Even with its slow start and messy structure, Hunters eventually finds it’s feet with a thrilling finish to episode 4 that sets events in motion for a blockbuster finale in which some of that brooding character drama does come to a solid fruition. While tonally it differs from the insanity of its preceding season, and with that comes a slight drop in quality, Hunters second, and final season, will sufficiently provide the fans with just enough decent closure.
Hunters Season 2 is streaming exclusively on Prime Video from January 13.
Be the first to leave a review.