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“Manhunter” by Michael Mann

--Staff Picks


Michael Mann
Published: 1986
Age Range: Rated: R
Genre: thriller/crime

Manhunter (1986) was the first installment in the Hannibal Lecter (in this movie “Lecktor”, don’t ask me why) films. Directed by Michael Mann (Thief, Heat, Collateral, The Insider), Manhunter is full of his trademark style, including striking lighting and a very ‘80s musical score. This movie is an adaptation of Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, which would be remade again as Red Dragon in 2002. This movie is better! It stars Brian Cox (of Succession fame) as Hannibal Lecktor, who is suitably creepy if only on camera a wee bit. It’s got a damaged, weird hero with great gams who talks to himself a lot (William Petersen). It’s got a humanized, very tall villain named Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan) who almost (but not really, let’s be serious) gets a redemption arc when he starts a relationship with his blind coworker Reba (Joan Allen). It’s got Reba in a surprisingly moving scene listening to the heartbeat of a sedated tiger. It’s got aspects of what writer Brandon Taylor calls a “paper movie”, where characters employ research (in this case mainly forensic science) in a satisfying way to find what they are looking for (in this case a new serial killer). Manhunter would actually be influential in this regard, showing that an in-depth depiction of forensic procedural work could be engaging for audiences.

Severely traumatized by his run-in with serial killer Hannibal Lecktor, former FBI profiler Will Graham has retired to the beach with his wife and son. Persuaded by his old boss (Dennis Farina) to come out of retirement, he quickly becomes obsessed with their new case—a killer dubbed the “Tooth Fairy” has killed two families so far, and seems to be on a lunar cycle. And there are only so many days until the next full moon.

Don’t be scared– place a hold here.