Manhunter ★★★★½

Michael Mann adapting Red Dragon might seem odd at first, but when you think about it Will Graham fits perfectly as one of Mann's protagonists. He's someone who is obsessive, has a distinct moral code he adheres to and lives on the edge in order to succeed. What this film does so well is to place you in his head; it allows you to understand his methods, the depths he must sink to so he can catch the depraved and the strain it puts on his psyche. William Petersen deserves a lot of credit for how successfully he walks the line between intellect and tortured, how swiftly he moves from subtle to explosive as a man irrevocably haunted by his past experiences.

We get many of Mann's trademarks with the striking use of neon light, superb shot compositions, direct dialogue and unusual music choices (seriously, how does he make these cheesy songs sound so badass?) but this time they are all used in service of the hazy, unsettling atmosphere. The supporting cast are all convincing and Tom Noonan's performance is so matter of fact that it makes Dollarhyde's actions all the more chilling. Contentious as it is, I also prefer the detached charm of Brian Cox as Hannibal to Anthony Hopkins' absurd pantomime. I can easily believe that this Hannibal could gain a persons confidence and you'd never suspect him.

The only misstep is the overblown climatic scene which doesn't really fit with the rest of the films tone. But outside of that this is an engrossing thriller, full of memorable images and excellent filmmaking touches.

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