Now, Al Pacino will really be able to exact his pound of flesh.
The iconic actor, who famously played Shylock, the wronged Jewish moneylender, in film and onstage in “The Merchant of Venice,” will soon be hunting down neo-Nazis in America in a new Amazon Prime TV series.
Pacino, who played the smart but ruthless Michael Corleone in “The Godfather,” will portray a Simon Wiesenthal-type figure named (fittingly) Meyer Offerman in Jordan Peele’s “Hunters,” a 10-episode series that will premiere next year. He’ll be trying, in the parlance of seasoned killers, to “off” Nazi officials from Germany who have settled in the U.S., plotting to establish a “Fourth Reich” here.
In a 20-second teaser from the series released last week, Pacino, with graying beard and Yiddish accent, declares “This is not murder. This is mitzvah.”
According to Amazon Prime Video, the series is based on real events. But to Mark Weitzman, an official of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (named for arguably the most famous Nazi hunter in history), “Hunters” may not paint an accurate picture of real-life Nazi hunters.
“If Pacino is supposed to be Simon Wiesenthal,” said the center’s Weitzman, director of government relations, “that does not come through.” Wiesenthal, a Mauthausen survivor who died in 2005, worked in Vienna after the war and helped, through meticulous research, to bring hundreds of war criminals to justice. “He would say, ‘I’m not a Jewish James Bond.’”
He did not have a Yiddish accent, and did not speak in terms of mitzvot, said Weitzman.
As a composite Nazi-hunting figure, Offerman probably falls short, Weitzman said. Most did not take justice into their own hands.
“The most effective ones” — like the late Tuviah Friedman and Efraim Zuroff, who directs the Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office — “were the ones who did the research,” more familiar with documents than daggers, Weitzman said.
What would Wiesenthal think of “Hunters”?
“He’d be very amused,” Weitzman said. He would appreciate the new attention on the crimes and criminals of World War II. “He wasn’t shy about using popular media as a means of publicity to make his point.”