Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Julian Dennison and Sam Neill star in writer-director Taika Waititi’s adventure drama about a 13-year old boy and his foster father who become the unwitting subjects of a manhunt.
Taika Waititi made an impressive directorial debut with Boy, a movie which never got a cinema release here in the UK, and then followed this up by co-directing the very enjoyable comedy-horror What We Do in the Shadows four years later. Now, Waititi has done a film that he can certainly be very proud of.
The story of Hunt for the Wilderpeople concerns a young boy (Julian Dennison) and his adoptive father (Sam Neill) who become the focuses of a big search after they get stuck in the New Zealand wasteland.
Julian Dennison and Sam Neill both give very good performances in their respective roles as Ricky and Hec, the young boy and his foster father who are absolutely determined not to get caught after they find out they are being searched for.
Not only this, but they also cause some trouble along the way, which can be a little uncomfortable in the process. They both suit their roles well and make the most of the time they have on the screen and the two aren’t afraid either.
Elsewhere, there are respectable performances to be had from Rima Te Wiata and Rachel House in their respective roles as Bella and Paula. Bella is Ricky’s foster mother, while Paula is a child welfare services officer.
The direction from Waititi is very good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while also keeping a tense atmosphere happening as well and the script is written to a decent standard by the director as he makes the movie good to follow.
The camera stands out best in terms of the technical aspects, because this makes very good use of the locations and also captures the tense moments well, which get the edge-of-the-seat status.
It’s also not a surprise to find out that this was the highest-grossing movie at the box office in New Zealand.
Overall, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an enjoyable drama from Taika Waititi, due to his direction and script, along with the very good and central performances from Julian Dennison and Sam Neill.