Thursday, July 16, 2015

Film Review: Manhunter (1986)

Manhunter (Review)
United States/1986
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...an engaging investigation, a sweaty-palmed thriller, and a disturbing psychological experience."

Former FBI criminal profiler Will Graham (William Petersen) comes out of retirement to investigate a killer known as The Tooth Fairy...

Manhunter follows Will Graham, an out-of-retirement criminal profiler with a complex past. With the ability to essentially enter a criminal's psyche, Will Graham begins to delve into the Tooth Fairy's methods and thought pattern — the who, what, where, and, most importantly, why. In order to do so effectively, Graham utilizes his old adversary, the cannibalistic serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox). And, of course, he must stop The Tooth Fairy before the next full moon, which is when he'll strike again. With the clock ticking and his fickle mind cracking, Will Graham races to stop the notorious serial killer. The film leads to a great ending — the style was superb, but there were some issues with the logic.

Manhunter is an incredible film. It's a tense psychological crime-thriller with wonderful investigative/mystery elements. Although, by a certain point, The Tooth Fairy's identity becomes purposefully blatant, I felt the mystery was excellent. It's the type of investigation that makes you, the audience, pull out a pen and notepad to participate — the type of mystery I adore. As a thriller, the film is always tense and engaging. An impressive feat to accomplish with dialogue alone — imagine yourself being at the edge-of-your-seat during a conversation — brilliant! And, of course, the psychological elements are thorough enough. I loved delving into The Tooth Fairy's mind and I loved watching Graham's deteriorating psyche. All of these pieces come together to create a superb package. There are a few scenes that stood out as ill-fitted, for lack of a better term, but only a few — I must emphasize that.

William Petersen delivers a strong performance as Will Graham. Although limited in screen time, Brian Cox is absolutely splendid — a deviously charismatic performance. Tom Noonan is also superb. The cast is strong. The film is beautifully shot, the vivid cinematography is amazing. I loved the use of vibrant colors. The 80s soundtrack can occasionally feel out of place, but it mostly matches the mood. The effective editing especially helps the music fit. Michael Mann's provocative direction is consistent and absorbing. Through meticulous-and-thoughtfully crafted scenes, Mann pulls you into this vibrant world. Although I can't speak for the actual adaptation of the novel or the novel itself, I thought the writing was also strong.

Overall, Manhunter is a fantastic film. It's an engaging investigation, a sweaty-palmed thriller, and a disturbing psychological experience. Although a few scenes felt out of place, the entire experience was incredibly immersive and satisfying. It's not a film I'll forget any time soon. And, as a side note, I think this film is better than The Silence of the Lambs. Don't miss it.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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