*Warning: Not A Film For Animal Lovers*
In this atmospheric film, the always enjoyable Willem Dafoe plays Martin David - the current pseudonym for a private contractor who accepts any work as long as the job pays well. An acutely fussy person, his choice of employment is a odd contradiction given his desire for neat precision and harmonious balance. And his next job entails entering into a very imprecise and messy world.
Assignment: Locate and harvest the Tasmanian Tiger, a dog-like creature that was hunted into extinction by ignorant immigrants early in the twentieth-century. Secret reports have reached a global biotech firm that it still exists; a confirmed sighting, likely the very last of its kind, somewhere in the cold mountains of the island nation. He's been ordered to hunt the animal down and kill it, taking samples of its blood, flesh and organs for purposes unknown.
The difficulty of the mission is made clear from his arrival, under his cover as a university researcher, he is persona non grata. The local populace needs employment and that means strip logging the rainforest - so "greenies" like him aren't welcome. In fact, the locals are openly hostile to any perceived neo-hippie because they see them as job killers. Conversely, the huddled eco-warriors also don't trust newcomers - they've been battling to save the pristine woods and hunters have slipped past their ranks before.
He has to secretly complete his contract while shunted in between these two actively opposing forces.
Complicating matters - the broken family that houses his base of operations. Broken because the family's father and husband is missing, the near-catatonic wife obviously under the improper influence of a local guide, and their children left to fend for themselves. Questions surrounding the father's disappearance somehow being connected to his assignment only adds to the difficulty of accomplishing his job.
And as he shuttles in between hunting excursions, he discovers something strange - an echo to his mission. A personal extinction and rebirth of his own, as he finds himself connecting with the family. Despite the clear danger to his mission, it's becoming more than just a distraction; Martin begins to rediscover his own humanity. But it's a discovery that may compromise more than just his payday.
Again, a caution for animal lovers: The act of killing and butchering a small kangaroo-like animal - the wallaby - is accurately depicted in the film. Additionally, the hunter utilizes classic means of animal capture using various traps, including steel springs, the type with sharpened blades which clamp onto an animal's leg.