Manhunter ★★★½

An engrossing and slick procedural thriller. Will Graham is another one of Mann’s brooding male protagonists, obsessed with getting his job done yet tortured by the need to think like a killer. Aesthetically the film is similar to Mann’s other work too (especially Thief), with the cold blue colour palette and the synth score. However this film is more focused on forensics and criminal psychology than anything else, which was pretty unprecedented at the time. I liked this more grounded take on the thriller movie, as it positions the viewer closer to the detective mindset. I also liked Brian Cox’s more laidback and genial take on Hannibal Lecter, as the absence of overt creepiness just makes him all the more menacing. I think Tom Noonan is the real unsung hero of this film though, as he gives humanity to Dollarhyde and avoids using any stereotypical hallmarks of insanity in his performance. However the film was somewhat of a letdown in the conventionality of the ending. I thought the film would emphasise the negative impact this investigation is having on Will’s psyche, however he ends the film pretty much unscathed, enjoying a day on the beach with his family. The score and the song choices were also jarring in places, sometimes it detracted from the somber tone. Ultimately the film doesn’t dig as deep as much as I’d have liked it to, but it’s still a really gripping detective story nonetheless. I wish more studios would take notes from this film, and realise that an investigative thriller can be exciting without the need to throw in a bunch of monotonous action scenes.

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