Netflix Movie of the Week #16: Manhunter

manhunter poster

I had originally written this piece before Halloween, but then things piled up—as they do—and I’m only getting around to sharing it now. Be that as it may, this week’s Netflix pick is very much in keeping with the theme of Halloween, and also happens to be tangentially related to one of the most recognizable horror/thriller properties around, namely The Silence of the Lambs.

Canonically preceding the events of Lambs, Manhunter follows the story of former FBI profiler Will Graham, played by William Peterson, as he is coaxed from retirement to take on one last case—that of the twisted serial killer known as “The Tooth Fairy.” Using his uncanny ability to get inside the headspace of a killer, effectively allowing him to think as they would, Graham finds himself in the company of the incarcerated Hannibal Lecktor, admirably portrayed by Brian Cox, as the pair conspire to get to the bottom of the investigation.

Though not especially successful at the box office, the film enjoyed a bit of a resurgence after its initial video release, and stands as one of my personal favorites within the Lambs mythos. Cox plays an excellent Lecktor, and brings across the subtly menacing and dangerous aura of the character in a way that I believe might make Anthony Hopkins himself proud. Director Michael Mann—a bit of a hit-and-miss filmmaker, in truth—proves that he has an excellent understanding of atmospheric pacing and tension, all while creating a visually interesting and engaging world—with plenty of signature 80s day-glow, naturally.

With a compelling dynamic between Cox and Peterson, and an exciting and well-executed “race against time” style plot, Manhunter, despite the admittedly bland title, is a fun, well-paced thriller that makes the most of its source material.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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3 thoughts on “Netflix Movie of the Week #16: Manhunter

  1. Steve November 21, 2014 / 7:24 pm

    Yeah, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I didn’t mind Red Dragon but didn’t feel it was as good as either SOTL or (the somehow much maligned) Hannibal. So I didn’t bother going back to see this one until recently when I decided to view it for completeness sake. It holds its own.

  2. Derrick November 21, 2014 / 8:56 pm

    RED DRAGON is just an okay movie. Not a bad one but it’s a movie that was made because at that time they didn’t have the technology to replace Brian Cox with Anthony Hopkins. Which is what I honestly think the studio would have done. MANHUNTER is indeed a well-made, strong thriller. But it’s also very much a Michael Mann movie, very stylistic and atmospheric. Well worth watching on a Friday or Saturday night.

  3. gregory moss November 23, 2014 / 4:30 pm

    An underrated gem! Great soundtrack too!

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