A mercenary employed by a highly secretive biotech research company sets out into the wilds of Tasmania in search of the elusive Tasmanian tiger - an animal assumed to be extinct by scientists, yet rumored to have been spotted in the area in recent years. Adapted from the novel by author Julia Leigh, The Hunter follows Martin (Willem Dafoe) as he ventures out on his mission and arrives at the home of Lucy Armstrong (Frances O'Connor), who has been heavily sedated since her husband vanished into the surrounding wilderness months ago, and who now lives alone with her young daughter Sass (Morgana Davies) and taciturn son Bike (Finn Woodlock). Shortly thereafter, Martin is accompanied to the edge of the wilds by Jack Mindy (Sam Neill), an old friend of Lucy's who has kept watch over her family and who balks at the newcomer's decision to navigate the rough terrain unaccompanied. In the wake of a clash with hostile local loggers Martin gradually begins to learn more about Lucy's family, and begins to develop a tenuous friendship with her two young children. But later, just as Martin begins to feel as if his goal is finally within reach, an unexpected development sends his mission into a tailspin, and causes him to question the motivations behind capturing this strange and majestic creature.