CinemaCl🎃wn’s review published on Letterboxd:
My first stint with Michael Mann's filmography is off to a good start as Manhunter turned out to be a stylishly directed, ingeniously photographed & finely performed thriller that combines the visual aesthetics of its filmmaker & psychological madness of its source material into one riveting cinema and, despite a few shortcomings, achieves what it set out to do.
Manhunter tells the story of Will Graham, a retired FBI agent who's called back into service by his former boss, Jack Crawford, to assist him in determining the psychological profile of a serial killer nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy", who has already murdered two random families on full-moon nights. Hoping to apprehend him before his next endeavour, Will enlists the help of someone who almost drove him insane.
Written & directed by Michael Mann, it is difficult to not be impressed by the framing & composition of shots that's on display here as Mann experiments with different colour tints & lighting to evoke the desired response from the viewers, and allows the images to set the tone for any particular scene. Cinematography is no doubt its biggest highlight, as the stylish application of visual components play a key role in enhancing the overall experience.
Coming to the performances, the cast comprises of William Peterson, Kim Greist, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Dennis Farina, Stephen Lang & Tom Noonan, and all of them chip in with fine inputs. Peterson is brilliant as Will Graham for the most part but there are instances when he gets a tad too excited. Allen & Farina play their part convincingly. Noonan does fine as the antagonist but fails to bring an intimidating vibe to his role while Cox as Hannibal "Lecktor" is okay at best.
On an overall scale, Manhunter is a perfectly good example of its genre(s) but the level of precision craftsmanship evident in its extravagant camerawork is rather missing in the storytelling section. A number of fine actors are wasted in their roles, the climax is somewhat underwhelming, and although the background score is fitting, the incorporated songs are just not compatible with the moments they tag along with. Nevertheless, the positives do outweigh the negatives, making Manhunter a worthy adaptation of Thomas Harris' Red Dragon.