A scene from “The Hunter,” a new thriller from Amazon Studios set in the lush Eastern European forests in 2001.
“It’s like a Herculean task,” Al Pacino says of his acting career. Indeed it is. The character he plays in the Amazon original series, Hunters, is the relic hunter Marius von Mettenbrenner, who apparently discovered those giant marmot skulls in the forest. If you haven’t heard of him before, you will. His name is not a coincidental stage name. Mettenbrenner is a legend in the sense that he has made so many films that a wiki user has created a list of 68 of them. Most of them are horror flicks, but he has also appeared in a couple of period pieces: In 1972, for example, he played a German soldier in Peter Schaffer’s Cries and Whispers, which explored the horrors of the Soviet occupation of Poland.
Marius’s greatest moment comes in 2001, in the quintessential reality-show format, when the local producers pitch him on being the host of a TV special showcasing his discoveries. Could he ever possibly comment on what they just showed him? Only if he could indulge in his childhood fantasies of crushing the skulls of unknown animals into tiny pieces. (“That’s my favorite thing,” he remarks.) Then he has to decide whether or not the elephants, tigers, bear or other aadwahana he has seen in the forest are actually real.
And here is a trick question: Which one do you have? Are they real? The producers want him to decide. But all of these factors are just props to convey more suspense and, presumably, higher Nielsen ratings. It’s all a bunch of nonsense as genre contrivances go, and Marius was supposed to face real danger as a leading man in the 1950s (and as a leading man in the 1980s). No, he definitely does not.
The notion that a man who earned $40 million for a movie could talk down to viewers who pay for a pass to watch his show in a cab (the license for which he is said to pocket $250) probably isn’t a good one. But the notion of killing him might be.