White nationalism, antisemitism, and bigotry are problems that exist in the real world, and the reality of these horrors affect minority groups on a daily basis. That should never be downplayed. Sometimes, though, entertainment is about catharsis, and for many viewers, a show about a group of vigilantes hunting Nazis will be a breath of fresh air.
Entertainment about people who take the law into their own hands has a history of focusing on White knights who target people of color. Death Wish, for example, set in motion a troubling trend of movies that depicted non-Whites as lowlife criminals who deserved to meet the business end of a shotgun. The vigilante genre has evolved in many ways since then, but movies and shows that make racists the target of justified retribution are few and far between.
That’s why Jordan Peele’s new Amazon series, Hunters, is a welcome addition to vigilante-themed pop culture. In a post-Charlottesville world where a crowd of morons chanting “Jews will not replace us” is still fresh in the zeitgeist’s collective memory, this show needs to exist. Hunters won’t fix society’s wrongs, but it can still address them in a therapeutic way.
The trailer for Hunters brings together Al Pacino, Logan Lerman, Josh Radnor, Jerrika Hinton, and Tiffany Boone to eliminate America’s hidden Nazi population, and they aren’t taking any prisoners. Check it out for yourself, and then read on as I look at some of the most interesting moments.
The trailer opens with a funeral service, immediately establishing that Hunters is a series about death. Jonah Heidelbaum (Lerman) has just lost his grandmother and is grieving her passing. The scene is very somber and upsetting, even though the rest of the trailer is more upbeat, spirited, and fun. This suggests that the show will sympathetically deal with the deaths of those who have been wronged while reserving entertaining forms of slaughter for those who deserve to be punished.
Pacino is Meyer Offerman, a friend of Jonah’s grandmother. He tells Jonah that he knew her from their time spent together at a concentration camp, and he appears to have a motive beyond simply paying his respects to an old friend’s grandson.
Jonah informs Meyer that his grandmother was shot by a “burglar.” However, he also reveals how he overheard a conversation between the pair prior to her assassination that sounded “personal.” Meyer listens with great intrigue and appears to know something that Jonah doesn’t, but he’s there to fill him in and recruit him for a noble cause.
After telling Jonah that the best way to feel better about his grandmother’s murder is to get “revenge” on the killer, Meyer offers Jonah “protection” from Nazis. “Protection” is the key word here, as it suggests that the people responsible for orchestrating his elderly family member’s death will come for him next. Judging by the black and white photographs depicted in this scene, they’ve been plotting their evil scheme since World War II.
The names also appear to be references to notable Nazis from the past. The first could be a relative of Fritz Hippler, a German director who was behind some of the most effective Nazi propaganda films. The second picture, however, is reminiscent of Gustav Richter, an aide to Adolf Eichmann who helped plan the extermination of 300,000 Romanian Jews during the Holocaust.
Dylan Baker stars as Biff Simpson, who in this scene, comes across as your average suburban dad. But the trailer reveals that he’s one of the “goddamn Nazis,” the evil living in the neighborhoods. In addition to being a vigilante show, Hunters is shaping up to be an exciting mystery thriller that proposes the idea that seemingly everyday people aren’t who they say they are. This is a common theme in entertainment about cults and spies, and when applied effectively, it makes for some interesting twists and turns.
In this scene, Meyer tells Jonah that he and his grandmother created a secret vigilante sect known as “The Hunters.” They’re experts when it comes to breaking and entering, explosives, spying, disguise, killing people, and the other required skills that are necessary in the war against far-right lunatics.
Agent Morris (Hinton) is an intriguing character from the get-go. She’s very aware of the Nazi epidemic operating in the shadows, but she wants to bring them down the proper way. She isn’t prepared to give the vigilantes a free pass, either, because in her eyes they’re also evil for opting to get justice through bloody means. Having her on the trail of the titular group will add more stakes to the proceedings, as she’s out to put a stop to their admirable mission.
The vigilantes aren’t messing around, either. If they encounter a Nazi, they’re going to deliver justice without mercy. This is one of a couple of scenes in the trailer that shows the group taking out the enemy in an unforgiving fashion.
The Nazis are planning something wicked on this date, which isn’t just some random day either. On this date in 1933, the “Heil Hitler” salute became a mandatory greeting for all German government employees. Furthermore, one year later to this exact date, the Reichstag approved a bill legalizing emergency defense measures, which marked an early act of state-approved tyranny before the Nazi government officially took over and established a dictatorship.
The Nazi plan is being spearheaded by some wealthy white people, who claim that they want to “save the world” by ushering in a Fourth Reich. Led by The Colonel (Lena Olin), they plan their dream genocide over cocktails. This looks like a gathering you’d expect to find at Richard Spencer’s house.
Hunters arrives on Amazon Prime on February 21st.