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Manhunter (Full Screen Edition) (1986)

A movie directed by Michael Mann

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[3.5]--The forgotten movie that is taken on its own terms

  • Oct 22, 2007
Like many people who have seen "Silence of the Lambs," I didn't know of "Manhunter," the first in the series, and by far one of the best one. This film was not only far ahead of its time but also a fantastic bit film making (Michael Mann once again hits the spot) in every sense of the word. The plot is the now basic serial killer on the loose/ cop must stop him and save his next victim. However, there are some very original and brilliant inventions in this film that separates it from the rest.

William Petersen is the cop, Will Graham and brilliant he is at playing him. He plays his psychological torment smoothly but making it unnerving for us. Tom Nooman is quite brilliant and in that way I mean terrifying at `The Tooth Fairy', the killer of the story. (Be sure to note the "wings" of blood under his arms after he has been shot and killed. This is, apparently, as close as he will get to becoming the "Red Dragon" he believed he was metamorphasizing into.)
He's multi-layered and he makes you both hate and feel sorry for him. Brian Cox is Lector in this tale. I won't bother with comparisons between him and Hopkins, because they both play Lector differently. Full credit must go to Cox though, he doesn't need masks or camp one-liners to try and make him scary. He is scary, his eyes, the deceiving way he talks. This is acting, not prop work but Anthony is still Lector to me.

Sure, "Manhunter" has weaknesses. Graham's acting is sporadic. The scenes where he is getting riled up at the as-yet-unknown killer are a bit weak. ("You son of a b****! You wanted them to watch, didn't you?") Also, as much as I enjoy Mann, it's probably too stylized for its own good. This is properly Mann's first masterpiece. The opening scene pans down from a blue sky to Graham and Crawford sitting on a branch on the sand. Freeze frame that. It is a perfect composition. A Vettriano image. This respect for composition is echoed through the movie. There are so many opportunities here to see the visual, the lighting, the camera all coming together. Yes, it is a 1980's pic. It was made in the 1980's and is a tribute to the look and feel of the time. He directs the film with so much skill and style. If I could get anyone to film night's scenes, it would be Mann. His night scenes (The Insider, Last of the Mohicans, Heat) are fantastic to look at and this is no exception and we get a lot of it as the film is mostly filmed at night. The screenplay is a cracker (again by Mann) and the music is class as well. For those who haven't seen this film should and for those who had see this again please.

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More Manhunter (1986) reviews
review by . February 15, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
This masterpiece needed a workover so badly. All the other previous dvd editions had a picture quality worse than vhs. I was glad as the Divimax Edition came out. The picture quality is superb (with the exception of the added restored material - although that can't get any better). Also the cardboard chapter list inside the box has the original poster printed on the other side. What is there left to say on the film? A masterpiece on a war of the minds. One, the Manhunter, brilliantly portrayed by …
review by . December 26, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
This film was made several years before SILENCE OF THE LAMB. The central character is not Hannibal Lector, but Will Graham (portrayed brilliantly by William Petersen); a FBI agent lured out of retirement to work on a special serial killer case. The film is tainted by the decade in which it was made (late 1980s). However, the film also feels like an episode of "Miami Vice" on speed which adds to the cat and mouse plot of the movie. The acting is better than average and the movie contains a rocking …
review by . October 20, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
To be fair, you shouldn't compare a film to its sequel, or even compare it to the book on which its based. But in the case of Manhunter, it's really, really hard not to. Even if you don't, Manhunter just doesn't cut it: Much of the acting, particlarly from the supporting actors, is wooden; the script hackneyed (Peterson soto voce growls "Goddammit!" into the camera more than once too often); the sets (while trying desperately to be 80's haute fashion) are cheap; the soundtrack is dreadful in every …
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Though it will always be remembered as themovie featuring the "other" Hannibal Lecter, Michael Mann's 1986 thrillerManhunteris nearly as good asThe Silence of the Lambs, and in some respects it's arguably even better. Based on Thomas Harris's novelRed Dragon, which introduced the world to the nefarious killer Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter, the film stars William Petersen (giving a suitably brooding performance) as ex-FBI agent Will Graham, who is coaxed out of semiretirement to track down a serial killer who has thwarted the authorities at every turn.

Graham's approach to the case is a perilous one. First he seeks counsel with Lecter (Brian Cox) in the latter's high-security prison cell--an encounter that is utterly horrifying in its psychological effect--and then he begins to mold his own psyche to that of the killer, with potentially devastating results. As directed by Mann (who was at the acme of his success with TV's Miami Vice), this sophisticated cat-and-mouse game never resorts to the compromise of cheap thrills. Predating Anthony Hopkins's portrayal of Lecter by four years, Cox plays the character closer to Harris's original, lower-key conception, and he's no less compelling in the role. Petersen is equally well cast, and as always Mann employs rock music to astonishing effect, using nearly all of Iron Butterfly's heavy-metal epic "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" to accompany the film's heart-stopping ...

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Director: Michael Mann
Release Date: August 15, 1986
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Michael Mann, Thomas Harris
DVD Release Date: August 24, 2004
Runtime: 119 minutes
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
First to Review

"Overrated and dated"
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