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Manhunter (22-Aug-1986)

Director: Michael Mann

Writer: Michael Mann

From novel: Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Keywords: Thriller, Cannibalism, Serial Killer

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NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Joan Allen
20-Aug-1956   Mother in Pleasantville
Garcelle Beauvais
26-Nov-1966   ADA Heywood on NYPD Blue
Dan Butler
2-Dec-1954   Bob "Bulldog" Brisco on Frasier
Patricia Charbonneau
19-Apr-1959   Desert Hearts
Brian Cox
1-Jun-1946   The original Hannibal Lecter
Chris Elliott
31-May-1960   The David Letterman Show
Frankie Faison
10-Jun-1949   Commissioner Burrell on The Wire
Dennis Farina
29-Feb-1944 22-Jul-2013 Ray Barboni in Get Shorty
Stephen Lang
11-Jul-1952   Gettysburg
Tom Noonan
12-Apr-1951   Manhunter
William L. Petersen
21-Feb-1953   CSI, Manhunter
Bill Smitrovich
16-May-1947   Andrew Thacher on Life Goes On


Review by Striker5 (posted on 17-Aug-2007)

In Manhunter, Thomas Harris' richly textured and disturbing novel "Red Dragon" gets the Michael Mann treatment: a Miami Vice tone and the character of Will Graham recast as a classic Mann protagonist. The plot centers around a monstrous-yet-human serial killer and the preternaturally gifted investigator trying to catch him. Notable in print and celluloid is the first appearance of Hannibal Lecter (Lektor in the film)(Brian Cox), as a crucial figure in the plot. The story follows the depradations of the "Tooth Fairy" (Tom Noonan), a serial murderer who destroys entire families in pursuit of a vivid fantasy life. Graham (William Peterson) is a retired investigator with almost superhuman powers of perception and an ability to crack cases by thinking through the psyche of his quarry. This ability disturbs Graham and effects his personal and professional relationships. The movie is very 80's in dress, music, and tone - reflecting Mann's artisitic interests at the time. Also, Will Graham takes on the characteristics of Mann's other central characters (like Hawkeye from Last of the Mohicans or Neil McCauley from Heat) as a fiercely dedicated, proficient, and emotionally disconnected person. The film achieves horror through suggestion - we only see the aftermath of the Tooth Fairy's rampages but they lose none of their impact. A large part of the novel is dedicated to the history of the killer and his evolution into a delusional mass-murderer. Mann manages to create almost as much empathy with less time through a sympathetic performance by Tom Noonan. While inevitably compared to Anthony Hopkins' famous performance, Brian Cox's Lecter is excellent. "Lektor" is less of a superhuman genius and more of a manipulative, arrogant jerk. More believably human, in other words. Unlike Jodie Foster's Starling, Graham has nothing but contempt for Lecter and blows him off and insults him - resulting in some interesting plot twists. Finally, the end of the film is much more conventional than the novel. There is some bizarre editing in the final confrontation that looks like sloppy camera work. I can't believe Mann, with all his perfectionism, would let that slide through. Perhaps he was making some sort of artistic point I am too dense to get. Bottom line: A fine film that is marred by hyper-exposure to Hannibal Lecter by much of the film's future audience.

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