I started up this movie without knowing anything about it other than the hook: Martin David (Willem Dafoe) is a mercenary, sent out by an anonymous science lab to hunt down an extinct creature: the Tasmanian tiger. What seemed like it would be an endless hunt for something that doesn't exist turned out to be a search for anything--connection, above all else. Martin is an awkward and enigmatic man who shies away from any sort of close contact. He prefers to keep things simple and quiet, and out in the serenity of nature he is at his most comfortable. Those serene scenes of him traversing the Tasmanian wilderness are a beauty to watch, but they are punctuated by a very disturbing reality. Martin sets traps, steel and improvised, and marks their location. While he loves nature, he does not lose sight of his mission.
"I'd like to go on alone."
His parting words to Jack Mindy (Sam Neill) feel like Martin's mantra. He may not say it to everyone, but you can see it in his face that he'd rather avoid everyone in this town. And by and large, they would rather avoid him--there is a rather heated conflict already in-play between local environmental activists and the loggers they are protesting. Martin plays a delicate balancing act of loyalties for as long as he can until things come to a head, when it is revealed that not everyone is who they seem, or seemed. There is somewhat of a love story intertwined between Martin and Lucy, who's husband has been missing for months without a trace--but I never got the feeling that either of them truly wanted each other. It's Lucy's children, however, that get Martin thinking about his future and about his past. How long will he travel the globe alone, hunting for--well, what exactly is he looking for? When the final scenes came, I was exhausted at the pacing but felt completely emotionally engaged with the characters in the final scene. And so I recommend this film, which is not really a pro-environmentalist tale, but rather a journey to find connection in a cold world.