Sunday, November 1, 2015

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "Manhunter" (1986)

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Director: Michael Mann
Year: 1986
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes

A serial killer has been murdering entire families every full moon, and the FBI needs to track him down before he murders the next one. FBI Director Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) seeks the help of retired agent Will Graham (William Petersen), who has captured many serial killers in the past. This case seems particularly difficult and Will seeks the advice of a one of the killers he put behind bars, the man who almost killed him, Dr. Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox).

William Petersen for all the wins.

Based on the book "Red Dragon," "Manhuntner" is the first film adaptation from the Hannibal series. Brian Cox fills the role of the cannibal psychiatrist Hannibal Lecktor (spelled Lecter in every other film) and does a fine job in the part with what limited screen time he has. It obviously wouldn't be until years later that Anthony Hopkins would make Hannibal Lecter a household name in "The Silence of the Lambs." Despite this be the least known Hannibal adaptation, it is still a really good movie. William Petersen plays Will Graham, an FBI criminal profiler who went into retirement when he was almost killed and almost went crazy tracking down and arresting the aforementioned Hannibal Lecktor. Tormented by his past, he is coaxed out of retirement when he learns there is a serial killer murdering families each full moon on the loose. Graham must turn to Lecktor, a man he despises, for help, though we are never totally sure of Lecktor's intentions. Like many crime thrillers, this is not a whodunit as the audience knows who the killer is long before any of the characters do. The serial killer in this film has a propensity for biting his victims and has been dubbed "The Tooth Fairy" by the media. Talk about a nickname. The towering 6'6" Tom Noonan plays Francis "The Tooth Fairy" Dollarhyde and his height and look does make him an intimidating figure on screen, though sometimes we felt he lacked a vocal presence he needed for such a hyped-up serial killer. He always sounds too mellow, though that might be nit-picky on our part because it is creepy, nuanced, and somehow sinister as The Tooth Fairy.

There is a lot of cool camera work done here, something director Michael Mann is known for using in his films. He does an excellent job directing the action and creating intense scenes apart from the ones we have come to know and love in the movies about Lecter after "Manhunter." In our opinion, these scenes stand on their own with an alluring mix of impressive mood, creepiness, and thrills abound. The soundtrack consists of a very synth-style of music, so much so that it screams 80's from a mile away. Though not as good as the latter exceptional "The Silence of the Lambs," this is still a good film. Petersen shows how much of a powerhouse actor he was/is here, Noonan is super as the villain, the action is good, Michael Mann was at the top of his directorial game, and it apparently sticks close to its "Red Dragon" source material. A great 80's thriller!

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "What If"

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