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Al Pacino Amazon “Hunters” series cutting-edge in many ways

Amazon Prime Video debuted a teaser trailer today for Hunters, an incisive new TV series starring Al Pacino and friends on a hunt to kill Nazis.

This isn’t quite Inglourious Basterds-style Nazi killing, but the idea is pretty similar. Also awesome is the fact that Pacino has never really done a TV show with potential for more than one season.

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Pacino starred as Roy Cohn in HBO’s Angels in America limited series. That was awesome and all, yet the legendary film actor hasn’t gone to the small screen except for TV movies otherwise.

Welp, that’s changing now — and what a project to come out swinging with. Could this also be a trend of where other Hollywood icons will go?

A thrilling premise — and peak Pacino

Here’s the synopsis from Amazon, via Deadline:

Hunters follows “a diverse band of Nazi Hunters living in 1977 New York City. The Hunters, as they’re known, have discovered that hundreds of high ranking Nazi officials are living among us and conspiring to create a Fourth Reich in the U.S. The eclectic team of Hunters will set out on a bloody quest to bring the Nazis to justice and thwart their new genocidal plans.

Deadline

Not only does Pacino do some fine accent work in this trailer — he seems to have his trademark commitment to his Hunters part, and Amazon has to be thrilled to have landed him.

Epic monologue. Quiet but strong and motivational. A little more reserved than, say, his uh-may-zing Any Given Sunday “Inches” address.

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Oh but then the trailer hits you with Pacino stabbing a dude in the hand at the end. This man is nearing 80 years of age and is still a total badass.

There isn’t much more to analyze here. Pacino is taking the lead of a 10-episode, original idea based loosely in fact. It’s a period piece, in an era where Pacino enjoyed his heyday and built his legend as an actor.

P.S., Jordan Peele is involved

Oh yes. Perhaps the hottest writer-director in Hollywood is helping finance the production and serves as an executive producer.

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Peele has had huge, smart horror hits with his original films Get Out and Us. He’s also revived The Twilight Zone. But when news of this project going to Amazon first broke, he made it a point to praise the show’s creator:

“When David Weil first shared The Hunt with me, I immediately knew that we had to be involved. […] It’s exactly what I want to see on television. I am thrilled to be working with Amazon in bringing this incredible vision to the world.”

Deadline

Weil signed an overall deal with Amazon Studios on Thursday, and the company is effusive in its praise of his genius. It must be that Weil has toiled away for some time and is finally coming to the surface with something special.

Peele’s ringing endorsement carries a lot of weight here. He’s subverted audience expectations and knows good original story when he sees it — or creates it. Nazis have been a frequent villain trope, yet this sounds like something truly different.

And, well, getting Pacino to join is a testament to the storytelling in and of itself.

A fascinating final act for an icon — and a trend?

Between this series and the soon-to-be-streamed Oscar contender The Irishman on Netflix, Pacino seems far from finished with acting.

Hunters was a hot spec script, and Amazon not only got it, but had Pacino starring to boot. This series has “hit” written all over it.

It’ll be interesting to see if Pacino carries on with TV. That seems to be the way of storytelling these days. For someone who’s played such complex characters, the new age of TV and streaming is a great place for longer narratives and denser characterization.

Such substance seems to appeal to an actor of Pacino’s caliber, and everyone should be excited for that. The aforementioned The Irishman runs at about three and a half hours, so it’s essentially a miniseries in and of itself. And it’s outside the major studio system, despite being directed by Martin Scorsese.

Harrison Ford is another Hollywood giant who’s exploring new horizons in TV. Per a Thursday report from Deadline, he’ll headline Annapurna TV’s The Staircase, based on the documentary series Netflix streams now.

Ford had bit parts on TV when he was first coming up, but this marks the first time he’ll be the lead of a series. He’s still got a film coming out in February, The Call of The Wild, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more like Pacino and Ford tap into the TV arena.

Streamers like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and others are green-lighting much to bold storytelling much easier than major studios. Sure, there are swings and misses, yet it’s still exciting. It’s the type of fresh air that probably makes this actors feel young again.

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