Manhunter

Manhunter ★★★★

The killer in me is the killer in you. Michael's Manhunter is a real doozy, and one I have conflicted feelings on, even if I ultimately love it quite a lot. Compared to other great adaptations of the Thomas Harris Hannibal novels, both Demme's masterful The Silence of the Lambs and Fuller's cracking NBC series, this film could be considered a bit of a whiff. There's a strong cast here, and Mann's script capably translates the most direct and gripping entry of the series beautifully, but something's frankly off, too simple, lacking some distinct flourishes from the source material.

The formalism is stupendous, some of Mann's finest, and it's applied to procedural material that would make Pakula and Fincher each sweat around the collar. But Graham himself feels too basic, too conforming to character archetypes like Frank in Thief or Neil in Heat. It's a good character, but it's not everything Will Graham should be, and let's be real, Petersen is not De Niro or Caan either. It's a down the middle take on the text, elevated by Spinotti's excellent camera work, the blocking, and the investigation at the story's center. And while I feel it lacks for the psychological firepower of some other Hannibal renditions, it stands out as possibly the most visually beautiful and technically refined filmmaking of them all. A real treat to screen in 35mm, now deliver us the 4K please 🙏

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