Tracker review

It’s 1903, the Boer War in South Africa is over and displaced farmer turned expert tracker Arjan (Winstone) has travelled to New Zealand to find a new home. It seems an odd destination to choose given that the British are also in New Zealand but his reputation precedes him and he is soon under the employ of Major Carlisle. His job, for which he will be handsomely rewarded if he succeeds, sis to capture alive a Maori seafarer called Kereama (Morrison) who has been accused of killing a British soldier and has subsequently gone on the run.

What follows is a sort of period drama/chase thriller which is an unusual combination but thanks to strong performances by the leads it's an enjoyable ride. Winstone, well known for his East End of London roots and accompanying accent, pulls off the Saffa twang with gruff aplomb, while Morrison is by turns amusing and sympathetic as the man on the run.

Kereama knows the local terrain better than anyone while Arjan tracks like a bloodhound so in theory it’s the ultimate battle of wits. However, you can’t help feeling that as a native Kereama would know better than to leave the numerous and obvious clues to his whereabouts, while Arjan’s detective efforts don’t come across quite as impressive as perhaps they could. Still, their banter is fun and although the constant shifts in power become somewhat farcical, it’s rarely dull.

The other characters are largely peripheral and some stray into cliché territory; Mark Mitchinson’s Saunders is so undeniably out for the Maori’s blood no matter what the truth is that even his commanding officer loses patience after a while. Although the development of the relationship of unlikely lead pairing is somewhat signposted, there’s sufficient intrigue to maintain the interest throughout. Overall, Tracker is a very solid, well-crafted film ably assisted by its stunning vistas, many of which are from the Queenstown area of New Zealand’s beautiful south island.

Official Site
Tracker at IMDb

Justin Bateman is a Screenjabber contributor

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