Manhunter ★★★★★

Michael Mann's adaptation of Thomas Harris' famous Red Dragon, the prequel to The Silence of the Lambs, is an underrated marvel which deserves to be regarded as one of the best thrillers ever created. The tension is almost unbearable from the very first frame up to the very last. I already knew the story after reading the novel and watching the 2002 film Red Dragon with Edward Norton and Ralph Fiennes, but I never would have expected to be as engaged and inspired by Michael Mann's adaptation from the 1980s.

Heavily stylized in its approach to Thomas Harris' story, Manhunter applies a wonderful soundtrack to create a film which couldn't feel more like coming from a very specific decade. It's an almost universal story filmed with a style which makes it appear like it could not have been done so intensely in any decade other than the 1980s. The direction and the cinematography are superb, but it's also the performances which turn this into such a wonderful film. William Petersen and Tom Noonan are perfect; Joan Allen is magnificent; Brian Cox' performance is overshadowed in retrospective by Anthony Hopkins' towering interpretation of Hannibal Lecter, but that doesn't make Cox' version of the character any less powerful; and Dennis Farina is given gritty material which he makes the best of.

I don't have anything to criticize about it other than the fact that it received such a small amount of attention that I didn't watch it until now. How did I miss this incredible movie for such a long time? I couldn't possible give it any less than the 5-star rating it deserves.

1986 Ranked
Ranked: Michael Mann's Films
Scavenger Hunt #52 | Film 26/31 | Task #25: A film from BSB's personal top 100 list.

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