‘Manhunter’ does everything right

August 15, 2014 Review Print Print
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I recently watched the 1986 crime thriller “Manhunter.” Based on Thomas Harris’ novel, “Red Dragon,” the story takes place before the events of “The Silence of the Lambs.”

Will Graham (William Petersen) is a former FBI criminal profiler known for catching the serial killer Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox). Graham is visited by his past FBI superior Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) who needs him to solve a new serial killer case. Reluctant at first, Graham agrees to take on the assignment. High fives all around for an awesome “I don’t do that anymore, I’m retired” scene.

The serial killer, Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan), targets families on lunar cycles. Graham has three weeks until the next full moon to catch Dollarhyde. In order to find this man soon, Graham must think like a killer.

The atmosphere of this film is decked in 1980s culture, not only with synth driven music, but costumes, production design and marketing. It’s more ’80s than most ’80s movies. A few taglines this film has are “It’s just you and me now, sport …” and “Will Graham has the mind of a psychopath — thank God he’s on the right side of the law.”

It doesn’t get much better than that, folks.

Graham’s son asks how he caught Hannibal Lecktor. He explains to his son, “… I tried to build feelings in my imagination like the killer had … so I could find him … .” He explains that after Lecktor was caught, “… I still had his thoughts around in my head and I stopped talking to people …”

Whoa, so Graham is risking his sanity trying to find this guy? That’s some heavy conflicts, doc.

“Manhunter” has many vivid images. The lighting is vibrant, colorful and uncommon. The most memorable images are Graham dreaming about his family and Reba McClane (Joan Allen) petting a tiger.

Anyone who enjoys crime thrillers will like “Manhunter.” It’s not just any crime thriller — it’s Michael Mann taking crime thriller to the max.

Rating: B

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