Will Graham is a former FBI agent who recently retired to Florida with his wife Molly and their young son. Graham was a 'profiler'; one who profiles criminal's behavior and tries to put his mind into the minds of criminals to examine their thoughts while visiting crime scenes. Will is called out of his self-imposed retirement at the request of his former boss Jack Crawford to help the FBI catch an elusive serial killer, known to the press as the 'Tooth Fairy', who randomly kills whole families in their houses during nights of the full moon and leaves bite marks on his victims. To try to search for clues to get into the mind of the killer, Will has occasional meetings with Dr. Hannibal Lecktor, a charismatic but very dangerous imprisoned serial killer that Will captured years earlier which nearly drove him insane from the horrific encounter that nearly cost Will's life. With some help and hindrance, Will races against the clock before the next full moon when the 'Tooth Fairy' will ... Written by
Michael Mann's 1986 adaption of the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon now titled Manhunter is without a doubt one of the best thrillers (or can I say horror movies) ever made (I say horror because what else do you call movies about serial killers). Manhunter is a winner on every level, from directing (but what did you expect from Michael Mann), acting, and all the other major technical jobs. I actually think it's better than Silence of the Lambs because it involves you more with the characters and what goes into catching a killer thus making it that much more intense. Now don't get me wrong Silence of the Lambs is really good and Jonathan Demme did a great job but the only reason some think it is the superior Lecter movie is because it is the mainstream Lecter movie, but for that I applaud it (how many other movies has been loved by the public and won oscars yet has a guy sling jizz in a woman's face). Manhunter is, like all of Mann's movies, kinda artsy but thats also one of the things about his movies that make them so good. And no other directer except maybe Oliver Stone or David Lynch knows how to use music to set the mood better than Michael Mann, be it the score or songs in general. The performances in Manhunter are all good except William Petersen's and Tom Noonan's which were GREAT!!! William Petersen does a great job at showing the emotional toll the search for the killer has on him mentally, and I love the fact that he's a good guy with a kind of dark side in him. There is something in Petersen's face that to me really shows his determination in catching the "tooth fairy" and he really is an underrated actor who should have bigger roles than he does. Tom Noonan has made a career out of playing villians (at least until lately), the only ones that kinda stick out are The Ripper from Last Action Hero and Cain in Robocop 2. But those were typical bad guys and his performance as Francis Dollarhyde in Manhunter is hands down the best depiction of a serial killer ever. Now I say that without knowing anything about serial killers other than whats on the news and in books but I'm sure they have some feelings (nobody's totally evil) and Tom Noonan shows this in his performance. The killer is a cold blooded killer but has a human side that is shown once he meets Joan Allen's character. There were scenes between them that really showed (through Noonan's performance) how messed up Dollarhyde is, like when she is kissing him and they have sex there is this look of unease and being totally uncomfortable on his face that really help flesh out the character. Brian Cox, who played Lecter or actually Lecktor, does great with his performance also but this movie isn't about Lecter so he's only in it for 10 minutes at the most but does great with that time, his Lecter doesn't come off as being the embodiment of evil like the Hopkins performance but his Lecter is more of a sly, manipulitive character. Not that I'm saying he's better than Anthony Hopkins because Mr. Hopkins deserved everything he got because of his performance but different movies have different interpretations. The movie does leave out some things about Dollarhyde's past but I think they were not needed because Tom Noonan did enough on his part, but the ending does change a lot but then again after creating such a compelling character as Will Graham (one of my fave characters ever...right up there with William Sommerset from Se7en) I didn't want him to get mutilated and almost killed like in the books ending. Plus if you think the killer is dead yet there is some hesitation in that AND the killer knows where you live I don't think you would go back to that house with your wife and child like in the book....oh and the kid's name is changed from Willy to Kevin but Willy would sound so corny, can u imagine the scene where Kim Griest says "stay here with me...me and Kevin" being "stay here with me...me and Willy" you wouldn't be thinking of the scene itself u would be thinking "who the hell would name there child Willy". And the director's cut does add some more depth to the characters and the new scene at the end where Graham visits the family that was to be Dollarhyde's next victim's is really good, it's not all dialogue like "you saved our lives" and all that s**t, it's played in the character's face....there needed to be no dialogue for it. Manhunter is one of the best movies ever in my opinion and will ALWAYS be one of the best of it's sub-genre. Hat's off to Michael Mann and Anchor Bay for releasing that limited edition DVD. One more thing this movie has my fave line of dialogue from Lecter, the whole "have you ever seen blood in the moonlight" scene was cool.
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