Movie Review: Heart of the Hunter

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Movie: Heart of the Hunter
Production Company: Scene23
Director: Mandla Dube
Producers: Tracey Lange, Tim Theron, Cobus van den Berg, Jorrie van der Walt
Scriptwriters: Deon Mayer, Willem Grobler
Main Cast: Bonko Khosa, Connie Ferguson, Masasa Mbangeni, Tim Theron
Release Date: March 29th 2024 (US)

Running Time: 105 minutes
Certificate: 15


District 9 this was not… Despite being awesome to see more African, particularly South African films, breaking through Heart of the Hunter will ultimately be just be a solid enough film which feels a bit like too many cooks muddling the stew. Even with some nice cinematography and a solid enough performance from Bonko Khosa, this feels a bit like someone fused John Wick, No Time to Die and Jason Bourne at the spine to create one film which only results in a muddled and confused mess at times. Now with that out of the way, here is my review of the film.


Heart of the Hunter follows super assassin Zuko Khumalo (Khosa) as re-enters back into a life of violence and corruption after encountering an old acquaintance: Johnny Klein who hands him a mysterious key. Zuko’s life is further turned upside down when shady presidential candidate, Daza Mtima, sends a private security army after him to attempt to silence his efforts to expose the corruption within the South African government. Alongside Zuko in his quest to expose corruption is ex-journalist, Mike Bressler, who like Zuko returns back into his previous life because of Johnny Klein.


The Tone Problem in Heart of the Hunter

Returning to the introduction, a big problem with Heart of the Hunter is how it often feels like three different films and tones all at once. While this doesn’t have to be an issue for the viewer, the film just doesn’t have the ability to juggle all three plotlines well enough to justify this call. For example, the constant tonal shifts between Zuko murdering Mtima’s supporters to Mike and his assistant, Alison, talking about coffee does nothing for the tonal whiplash which hits the audience.

While this is likely done to show the difference in danger levels between Zuko and Mike’s world, it just takes the audience out of the film repeatedly which obviously makes it difficult to keep a consistent level of engagement. So despite there being a lot of good aspects to the film, these will often get lost like the film’s plot every 20 minutes when it switches focus again.

The Cinematography in Heart of the Hunter

Speaking of Heart of the Hunter’s good aspects, it’s cinematography is pretty decent which at least means the audience have something nice to appreciate while they’re dealing with story whiplash. For example, the drone shots of the South African landscape while Zuko is escaping from Mtima’s men are fantastic. They illustrate just how small and insignificant both men are in the context of the South African landscape.

Also, the cinematography in the opening fight scene is pretty decent, if not slightly ruined by choppy editing, which helps provide a fun and engaging opener to the film. It also creates great suspense as we see soldiers converge onto a house with little or no exposition about why they’re doing this operation. Honestly, if the film kept this Jason Bourne-esque energy it probably could have been pretty great instead of a muddle with some decent cinematography.


To summarise Heart of the Hunter, this is a decent action film with good cinematography and solid performances from the lead cast. However all of this is alongside too many different stories competing for minimal screen time and character development. All of this just drags down the film and just confuses the audience. Overall, this is likely just going to be in the deep archives of Netflix distributed action films…

Overall Rating: 4.5/10 – Below Average
Target Audience: 15+

Content Warning: Severe Violence and Gore, Moderate Frightening and Intense Scenes, Moderate Profanity
Recommendation: No