This review is in association with THE LAMB's director's chair.

Director: Michael Mann (1986)
Starring: William Petersen, Tom Noonan, Joan Allen, Brian Cox
Find it: IMDB

Gil Grissom's pre-CSI days pit him head-to-head against William Blake quoting pantyhose-faced serial killer The Tooth Fairy (Tom Noonan) and his very own demons in the shape of Doctor Hannibal Lecktor (Cox). This is Red Dragon alright - the only version of which you ever need to watch.

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Gil Will Graham (Peterson) is an FBI profiler retired to Florida with his lovely wife and child. He's brought out of retirement to help hunt down The Tooth Fairy, a particularly vicious serial killer who murders whole families for kicks. In need of guidance and inspiration, Graham seeks out old mentor Hannibal Lecktor. No, I've not spelt that wrong. Docktor Lecktor being the same old cannibal we've always known him as, only this time played with less camp by Brian Cox instead of Anthony Hopkins. Cox is a very different Lecktor than Hopkins. Both are very good in the role, but I think I prefer Cox. He's more intimidating, more menacing - certainly more of a physical presence. I would have been curious to see how Cox would have handled more screen time in The Silence Of The Lambs and maybe Hannibal. Hard to see him putting himself in the position to be under threat from pigs, that's for sure.

Unlike Brett Ratner and his lazy "here's Hopkins, now I can just sit back and have a nap" style of direction, Michael Mann knows how to direct the hell out of a crime movie. The cinematography is all light cues and filters, disconcertingly brighter than we're used to from movies of this variety.

Mann has made quite the career out of pitting two quite different but very interesting forces against one another. Heat bought us Al Pacino vs Robert De Niro. He put Tom Cruise against Jamie Foxx in Collateral - and then made it not shit. Tom Cruise's hair is ridiculous in that movie, but it's to Mann's testament that Cruise's hair is the only ridiculous thing. Manhunter has William Petersen hunting Tom Noonan, and both men are fantastic. Petersen's Will Graham is the template for his CSI character, but he does it so well that it's not hard to see why he proved so popular as Gil Grissom. Noonan is at once intimidating and pitiful as Graham's prey. He's a right bastard, but you can't help but feel for him as his doomed relationship with Reba (Allen) progresses. Also, he looks utterly terrifying. Tattooed and with pantyhose on his head, I certainly wouldn't want to meet Tom Noonan's Dolarhyde down a dark alley.

Manhunter falters a little towards the end, losing the book's finale in favour of a fiery shootout, unworthy of both hunter and hunted. But it's still a very powerful movie, more interesting to me than The Silence Of The Lambs and most certainly Brett Ratner's dull, blatantly obvious remake/adaptation. After a disappointing reception upon release, Manhunter has since become regarded as something of a cult classic. Rightly so. This one is definitely worth Hunting down, Man.

1 comment:

  1. I just rewatched this one recently and was surprised how awesone William Petersen is. Overall, I thought the film played more like an episode o f CSI than a boni fide horror film, but I really enjoyed it anyway. Tom Noonan shows he isn't just limited to Frankenstain in The Monster Squad, which makes him a legend in my book.