The Most Dangerous Game is a classic story with an evergreen archetype that’s always fit for adaptation. The new film The Hunt was the latest iteration, applying modern political social media archetypes to the hunt for human game. Some classic examples are the ‘90s actioners Hard Target or Surviving the Game, and one could say The Running Man was an iteration of it too. Liam Hemsworth’s Quibi version is off to a slow start for such a classic concept, and not a good introduction to the new streaming service.
The plot of ‘Most Dangerous Game,’ again
Dodge Tynes (Hemsworth) takes a meeting with Miles Sellers (Christoph Waltz). Tynes needs money for medical treatment, so he can hold on just long enough to see his son born. So Sellers makes him a devil’s bargain. He’s got the money to set the Tynes family up for life, but the job is for Tynes to become “the most dangerous game.”
Episode one does a good job setting up Tynes desperation and Sellers’ resources. That’s why it’s so disappointing that the hunt doesn’t begin in episode two. The second episode is a flashback to establish Tynes’ fitness regimen, his wife, his job. Episode three shows his diagnosis at the hospital and how he got the information for the meeting with Sellers. Then it’s back to Sellers explaining the rules, which okay, specify the rules but this should all be handled in the first Quibi.
The longer Tynes survives, the more money his family gets. If he makes it 24 hours, he lives. There are five hunters, and no guns allowed. Episode four is still Tynes considering the offer and getting cold feet. Finally, the hunt begins at the end of the fourth Quibi.
We get it, Liam Hemsworth
Quibi episodes are under 10 minutes each. Still, 10 minutes should be all you need to establish Most Dangerous Game. Tynees is desperate for money and already has a death sentence, check. Sellers has resources and runs this underground hunt, check. The audience knows this concept, and even if this is the first adaptation they’ve seen, it’s not hard to explain.
The first four chapters run about 35 minutes. That’s a long first act for a movie, let alone if you’re supposed to binge The Most Dangerous Game, you might tune out before it even gets to the hunt. Quibi’s folated the idea of “movies in chapters” but how long are you going to wait to get to the action?
This is a new format but they’re using the same storytelling. If you’re doing 10 minute shows, you should embrace the short form. Respect that the audience is tuning in for brevity and trust that they can keep up. You really don’t need to set that much up. You can use shorthand. Plus, this is simple. He’s dying. He can volunteer for this somewhat familiar classic scenario.
Plus, the hunt escalates by the hour. Each episode should represent an hour of the hunt, compressed into 10 minutes. You do sort of believe that Sellers wants Tynes to win. He wants good competitors for his brand.
Watching on Quibi
Quibi does a neat trick where they’ve composed the shows for either a vertical or horizontal screen. Depending how you orient your device, you’ll see a different picture. The screener allowed critics to compare the vertical and horizontal frames.
Usually, the frames are showing the same things: Tynes walking down the hall, the shoes of the person he’s following. Sometimes a two shot has to pick only one character for the vertical screen.
Whichever frame you’re viewing, the acting is A-list and the production values are well done. It looks like a legitimate studio production. It’s just slow starting.