‘Hunters’ review: Amazon’s violent anti-Nazi drama has potential but needs sharper direction

“Only the dead know the end of war.” – Hunters

Approximately six million Jewish people, along with millions of others, perished in the World War II (WWII) genocide that we would later come to know as the Holocaust. They were targeted for racial, political, and ideological reasons by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party regime. Although Hitler was defeated, his dictatorship serves as a constant reminder of the dangers of fascism and bigotry. Amazon Prime’s new drama series Hunters uses the fictional plot of nazi hunters in 1977 United States to highlight real history regarding the aftermath of the Holocaust and explore the not-so-fictional premise of those who believe in fascist rhetoric attempting to gain governmental power once again. The series has potential with strong emotional moments but suffers from underdeveloped characters and scattered plotting.

Jordan Peele (Us) serves as executive producer of the series with his production company Monkeypaw partnering with Amazon Studios. The show stars Al Pacino (The Irishman), Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters), Jerrika Hinton (Grey’s Anatomy), Lena Olin (Night Train to Lisbon), Greg Austin (Summer of Rockets), Dylan Baker (Trick ‘r Treat), and Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) along with a number of new and familiar faces.

One of the strongest aspects of the series is how it leans on the real history of the Holocaust. Some liberties are taken in regard to the retellings of certain horrific details, but overall Hunters has no need to embellish the cruelty of that genocide. In each episode, we are shown a fictional Nazi, their transgressions, and then the hunt to bring them to justice. The justice is usually bloody, and the show displays no sign of mercy for the former supporters of Hitler. It implores the audience to feel no remorse for these characters by not only speaking of the horrors they carried out but giving us scenes that show their atrocities in great detail.

Hunters seeks no common ground or compromise with Nazis or fascist rhetoric, and if there is ever a moment when a hunter falters in carrying out bloody justice, they and the viewers are reminded just how irredeemable a Nazi is. In a time where neo-Nazi and fascist rhetoric has seen a resurgence, this theme certainly feels relevant.

The interesting thing about Hunters is that although the carrying out of violent justice pertains to this particular fictional band of warriors, the series is based on the actual fact that Nazi hunters have existed.

The show may spark an interest in those who see it to find out about the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, and others like him, who dedicated their lives to bringing war criminals to justice. There are many movies and TV series about fictional comic book heroes facing off with fake villains, but a little digging in our history shows us that real-life battles against actual villains took, and perhaps continue today. The series also explores the other documented fact that many Nazis, some even high-ranking officials in Hitler’s regime, were given safe haven by the United States government after WWII. It is this interweaving of real-world happenings in the series that helps expand its scope.

Intense dramatic performances help move along the slow-burn plotting. Pacino and Hinton anchor the series with commanding portrayals. There is extreme violence that may be off-putting for some viewers, yet those kinds of scenes feel few and far in-between in relation to the longer dialogue-heavy moments. The first episode is 90 minutes long, and there are moments when the show drags. It is clear that Hunters is building towards something major; it just takes a while (and 10 episodes) to get there.

There are some strongly defined characters, such as Pacino’s Meyer, Hinton’s Detective Morris, and Baker’s Nazi Biff, but Hunters has many characters that aren’t given nearly enough time for exploration. Viewers are only provided snippets of potentially intriguing characters like Vietnam War vet Joe Torrance (Louis Ozawa) and Black Power activist Roxy Jones (Tiffany Boone).

There is a comic book movie aesthetic, with bright colors and stylish character intros, that fans of that genre will like. There is even a reference to one of the characters being a “Jew-per hero” for good measure, highlighting the more comedic moments in the series. This helps to offset the other moments of in-your-face graphic violence. This show is not for the faint of heart or those that might feel squeamish at the sight of blood. There will be blood, lots of it.

Hunters has loads of potential and a strong cast. The first season feels a bit uneven in plotting, but a premise dealing with the threat of a Fourth Reich taking over the U.S. government and potentially the world, while simultaneously reminding us of how dangerous fascist rhetoric truly is, is a relevant story worth telling. It isn’t a perfect start, but it lays the groundwork for what could be a spectacular second season.


Chauncey K. Robinson
Chauncey K. Robinson

Chauncey K. Robinson is an award winning journalist and film critic. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, she has a strong love for storytelling and history. She believes narrative greatly influences the way we see the world, which is why she's all about dissecting and analyzing stories and culture to help inform and empower the people.