Richard T’s review published on Letterboxd:
Heartbeat, heartbeat, listen to my heartbeat, OOH!
I've only seen a couple of his films, but I do like Michael Mann and Manhunter is another piece of classy entertainment, except just drenched in wonderful '80's style and beautiful shades of blue, green and white.
That doesn't mean it's not without problems; the pacing is off in the first 30 minutes, moving sluggishly while focusing on an unconvincing William Petersen in the lead. The guy is good at conveying intensity with his facial expressions, but his dialogue delivery is so flat and it kept taking me out of the film.
But right around the point Brian Cox's Lecktor is introduced, it starts to pick up. Not because of Cox's performance as Lecktor, which is fine, but because this is where it starts to pick up the pace and turns into a tight investigative thriller. All of Mann's films carry this professional vibe to me, and Manhunter is no different. The focus on the forensic science mixed with detective work predates CSI (I guess it's a coincidence that Petersen is in both) and it's riveting to watch.
The film's real ace card, however, is Tom Noonan's portrayal of The Tooth Fairy. Watching his performance made me genuinely uncomfortable. He's so damn creepy and his calm, quiet demeanour made him seem more unpredictable, even though I know this story very well.
The conclusion is pretty weak and some of the supporting cast is wasted, but Manhunter is a film of genuine quality. I kept finding myself comparing it to Red Dragon a lot, and I'd say that while the latter does the Will Graham stuff better (only because it has a better actor in Edward Norton), this does pretty much everything else better. It's made with such a vibrant style and energy that Brett Ratner could only dream of accomplishing.