Written by David Hudson
Following the Boer war, former South African farmer Arjan van Diemen (Ray Winstone) lands in New Zealand looking to start a new life. Heâ€™s had enough of war and is still grieving the loss of his wife and daughters. Almost immediately heâ€™s drawn into a new drama. A Maori man, Kereama (Temuera Morrison) is falsely accused of killing a British soldier, fleeing into the New Zealand wilderness. Given van Diemenâ€™s superior tracking skills, local army man Major Carlysle (Gareth Reeves) recruits him to track the fugitive. Van Diemen successfully locates the Kereama and forces him to return to face justice. However, the Maori continues to plead his innocence â€“ claims which eventually begin to work their way under the God-fearing van Diemenâ€™s skin.
On paper, Tracker does not sound like the most exciting of propositions. Itâ€™s a strangely old-fashioned sort of tale, and the first 20 minutes, set in Christchurch, feel unusually hammy. However, bear with it, for when the action switches to the wild and breathtaking New Zealand countryside, Tracker becomes quietly riveting. Helmed by veteran TV director Ian Sharp, the pacing is kept brisk, and the bickering and argumentative Winstone and Morrison make for an engaging double act â€“ their frequent fisticuffs being shot through with moments of offhand humour. Winstone turns in one of his best performances as the gruff South African, and itâ€™s good to see Morrison â€“ who came to international attention in 1994â€™s Once Were Warriors â€“ in a decent starring role again.
Although it starts out as a straightforward tale, Nicolas van Pallandtâ€™s screenplay builds the suspense, leaving you guessing until the final five minutes as to the menâ€™s fate. The result is a haunting little gem.
Last edited: 29th May 2011
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