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Review: ‘Hunters’

Thriller drama Hunters looks at a diverse band of New Yorkers hunting down Nazis in ’70s New York City. The Hunters have learned about hundreds of high-ranking Nazis in the metropolitan area, and set out to bring them to justice.

Al Pacino plays Meyer Offerman, a Holocaust survivor who oversees the Hunters. It’s a unique role for Pacino, playing Offerman with a thick accent and devouring most every scene he’s in. He doesn’t appear in the pilot until 23 minutes in, but makes his mark on it in a way that few other actors can.

Offerman is something of a mentor to Jonah, a young Brooklyn man whose grandmother is murdered. Logan Lerman plays Jonah, and handles the juicy role with verve, holding his own in his taut scenes with Pacino. After Jonah’s grandmother is killed, Offerman, an old friend of the woman’s, quotes the Talmud, telling Jonah that living well is the best revenge.

Once Jonah learns of the Hunters and their ambitions, Offerman recasts the quote. “Know what the best revenge is?” the gentleman assassin asks. “Revenge.”

The pilot, running a feature-length 90 minutes, is titled “The Belly of the Whale.” The producers, including creator David Weil and Jordan Peele, deliver a convincing rendering of America — New York, suburban Washington — in 1977. There are Dodge Darts, bottles of Schlitz, Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” and pictures of Farrah Fawcett to bring the viewer back in time. Flashbacks, to Holocaust happenings in the early ’40s, at times make Hunters a period piece within a period piece.

Hunters offers compelling secondary stories, including Grey’s Anatomy’s Jerrika Hinton as an FBI agent, looking into the murder of a female NASA veteran in Florida, and a brutal Nazi thug doing the dirty work for a Washington insider. Hunters offers a succulent idea, and bravura performances by Pacino, Lerman and Hinton immediately get their hooks into viewers. The pilot offers plenty of thrills, and one may never look at a chess set in quite the same way after watching.