Given today’s political climate and the resurgence of white nationalism in countries that once fought and prevailed in the Second World War against the Third Reich, Amazon’s ‘Hunters’ (2020) feels painfully appropriate. Others might say perhaps too appropriate, but the overall darkly comic approach takes the edge off this genre-bending saga. Not that long ago, people were debating about whether it was cool to punch Nazis or not after Richard Spencer got himself a shiner during a televised interview.

Many agreed that we’d best go high when they go low—but many more pointed out that being a Nazi is the epitome of evil. And in the face of evil, one fights. ‘Hunters’ satisfies the latter group of people by providing a violent ensemble of ‘hunters’ who take karma into their own hands and not only punch Nazis but kill them, acting as judge, jury, and executioners.


The series is based on a true and little-known fact: not long after the Second World War ended, and Germany was falling apart at the seams, the American government brought over and secured new identities for a throng of Nazi scientists. People who had served Hitler and his dreams of an Aryan empire were hired by NASA and other government branches to help push the United States into a new era. This was Operation Paperclip, and it eventually sent the Americans to the Moon. ‘Hunters’, however, does much more with this inspiration source. Its story involves an incredibly elaborate plan of the aforementioned secret Nazi immigrants to bring about the Fourth Reich as they pretend to be God-loving American citizens, and it is up to Meyer Offerman (Al Pacino) and his comic-bookish band of vigilantes to stop them.

At first sight, ‘Hunters’ might give off a sensationalist impression. The Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau accused the production of ‘dangerous foolishness and caricature’ over some of its scenes—particularly the Auschwitz prisoners’ deadly chess game, where SS officers forced them onto a life-size chessboard field, using them as pieces and pushing them to kill each other with every conquering move. But newcomer creator David Weil defended the scene, which was likely inspired from Dan Simmons’ ‘Carrion Comfort’ sci-fi novel of 1989: ‘After all, it is true that Nazis perpetrated widespread and extreme acts of sadism […] against their victims. I simply did not want to depict those specific, real acts of trauma.’


The show is, in fact, respectful of the Jewish people and their immense suffering at the hands of the Nazis. Its characters do a fantastic job of conveying their emotions, their anger and their desire for justice on behalf of the millions of people who died in atrocious conditions—friends, families, loved ones. ‘Hunters’ is, by all intents and purposes, a revenge fantasy that crosses several genres and has no mercy for the villains in its story. Some might find the violence glorifying, but the overall formula works if one focuses less on the historical accuracy and more on the characters’ journey. It is surprisingly unpredictable, and we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen until it happens. And the outlook is often grim, but Weil’s hunters keep fighting because… well, what else are they going to do, when the Nazis have infiltrated the American government to the highest level?

‘Hunters’ is David Weil’s first foray as a showrunner, and he has put together an impressive team of writers and directors to convey his vision onto Amazon’s Prime streaming platform. Cumulated credits of this crew include gritty and compelling productions such as ‘Watchmen’ (2019), ‘Prison Break’ (2007-2017), ‘American Horror Story’ (2011-2016), ‘Legion’ (2017), ‘Happy!’ (2017-2019) and ‘Preacher’ (2017-2019), to name but a few. The writing is rife with dark humour and sprinkled with Yiddish snark of the highest calibre. The Nazi characters have a slightly over-the-top allure, yet they manage to be realistically terrifying when they pounce on their victims. The hunters are a rat-pack of sorts, a diverse group of men and women gathered under Offerman’s tutelage to exact revenge upon people with the means and resources to practically destroy the world. The stakes become painfully obvious as the story unfolds.


The cinematography is exquisite, as ‘Hunters’ is seen through a cinematic retro lens. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, the pilot’s director and an alumnus of Ryan Murphy’s ‘AHS’ and ‘Glee’ productions, said that he wanted to make Weil’s series as cinematic as possible, which is, in part, accomplished through its feature length, but fully established through the camera work. ‘I want everything to be screened at the Cinerama Dome, so I’m always approaching everything asking, “Is it worthy of the big screen?”’ Gomez-Rejon told Variety.

William Rexer of ‘The Loudest Voice’ (2019), Emmy Award winner Frederick Elmes of ‘The Night Of’ (2016), and Tim Norman are the cinematographers that Weil chose for this project, and the end result, combined with Curt Beech’s sterling production design, is an enthralling immersion in 1970s New York. There is something about the lighting, in particular, that further adds to the show’s vintage vibe and its already dark story.

Worldbuilding and screenplay aside, however, it is the actors’ performances that deserve a round of heartfelt applause. ‘Hunters’ is propelled by a strong cast and an even stronger sense of justice. It’s Al Pacino’s first role as a television series regular, and his portrayal of Meyer Offerman is absolutely spectacular. If anyone can get us to believe that the end justifies the means, it is the Jewish millionaire who survived the horrors of Auschwitz and uses his fortune to track down and kill as many Nazis on American soil as he can.


Logan Lerman has grown a lot since ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ (2012), ‘Fury’ (2014), and the ‘Percy Jackson’ films. The slow-burning pilot brings him into focus as the Jewish teenager who gave up on college and resorted to dealing weed to support his grandmother, whom he lovingly refers to as his Safta. His world is turned upside down when she’s gunned down in their own home, and he discovers that she was an integral part of a band of Nazi hunters led by Meyer Offerman, who immediately becomes a sort of twisted grandfather figure.

Lerman’s Jonah Heidelbaum is full of emotions—his pain transcends the fantasy of the screen as he tries to cope with this ugly reality that he’s been plunged into. As the plot thickens, and he starts losing more of the people he loves, Jonah becomes determined to stop the Nazis from achieving their goals, following Offerman’s questionable path. There is a clear evolution of Jonah as a character, from a shy weed-dealing Jewish boy who loves his grandmother but isn’t truly connected to his legacy, to the furious young man who feels the pain of all the Jewish people as he digs deeper into his grandmother’s history and the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis.


An exquisite part of the ‘Hunters’ ensemble are Saul Rubinek and Carol Kane as Murray and Mindy Markowitz, survivors of a death camp themselves. Mr Rubinek was born in a refugee camp in Germany in 1948, where his father ran a Yiddish Repertory Theatre company, so aside from his thespian talent—easily demonstrated by ‘Unforgiven’ (1992) and ‘True Romance’ (1993), among others, he also draws from his own life and upbringing to add that essential dose of realism which makes Murray Markowitz authentic and much-beloved.

Known best for her role as Valerie in ‘The Princess Bride’ (1987), Lillian Kaushtupper in ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ (2015-2019), and Mrs Sisters in ‘The Sisters Brothers’ (2018), respectively, Carol Kane is truly arresting as Mindy Markowitz. She survived the Holocaust, even though she watched her son, a mere child, gunned down by an SS officer during the family separation process. She survived the camp in part thanks to Murray, who left her a dandelion on the fence each day, so she’d know that ‘it’s gonna be okay’, eventually. The Markowitzes are Offerman’s chief technical ‘officers’, and they’re quite adept at balancing their religious lives with their Nazi hunting endeavours. They love each other deeply, and they share the kind of trauma that would normally break people into bits and pieces—through everything they have endured, however, Murray and Mindy Markowitz have managed to push through.


Some have wondered what Josh Radnor of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ (2005-2014) fame was doing in ‘Hunters’. To my surprise, he offers a hilarious rendition of Lonny Flash, the washed-up Jewish actor turned Nazi hunter. Richard Dreyfuss keeps ‘stealing’ the spotlight from him, but Flash is not easily defeated. Though he comes across as a skeevy womanizer and perhaps not the brightest fruit in the basket, he certainly delivers when it’s time to get serious, without skimping on the much-needed comic relief.

Tiffany Boone of ‘Beautiful Creatures’ (2013) and ‘The Following’ (2014) plays Roxy Jones, a badass single mother with a glorious afro that uses the paid work she does for Offerman to fund her ex’s civil rights protests. Louis Ozawa of ‘The Bourne Legacy’ (2012) is Joe Mizushima, a war veteran who’s still plagued by harrowing memories of combat that include an attempt to carry a napalm-stricken girl off to safety. Kate Mulvany is remembered as Mrs McKee in ‘The Great Gatsby’ (2013), but as Sister Harriet, the gun-slinging and ass-kicking vigilante nun in ‘Hunters’, she is easily one of the show’s undeniable superstars.


Dylan Baker as Biff Simpson, Undersecretary of State to President Jimmy Carter by day and secret Nazi better known as ‘the Butcher of Arlav’ by night, is exactly what one of the key villains in this series is supposed to be—equal parts scary and over the top, and with the morals of a mollusc. Greg Austin of ‘Mr Selfridge’ (2014-2016) is quite the surprise as Travis Leich, a psychopathic Nazi assassin with dreams of becoming the American Hitler. Lena Olin makes a brilliant return to television as The General, a deviant Nazi mastermind and Offerman’s ultimate antagonist.

If historical accuracy or lack thereof may put viewers off, ‘Hunters’ certainly rises above the other mixed genre shows with its exceptional performances and brutally honest pieces of American history disguised as mock TV commercials and game show snippets—because if there is one thing that the United States may never escape, it’s this complicated relationship with white supremacy, which dates back long before the Second World War. ‘Hunters’ is not for everyone, but for those who wish to revel in a full-blown revenge-against-the-Nazis bonanza, it is the gift that will likely keep on giving.