Based on novelist Thomas Harris' book "Red
Dragon", "Manhunter" is a stylish yet tense adaptation of the
popular novel. The first time in fictional history that character Hannibal
"The Cannibal" Lecter is introduced, the 1986 film was written for
the screen and helmed by renowned director Michael Mann. The film stars William
Peterson (star of TV's "CSI"), and well known veteran actors Brian
Cox and Tom Noonan. The film opens with the viewer being taken into a home that
is the site of a crime scene. It turns out that a normal "everyday"
family was murdered including the children. It is then explained that this is
only one of a few recent murders. The murders are very similar in which entire
families are killed with the killer's trademark two pieces of glass (from a
broken mirror) being placed over the victims eyes. FBI agent Will Graham
(Peterson) is then introduced. Graham is trying to relax with his family at
their beach house and to put the bureau
behind him. He had recently garnered a bit of fame by capturing elusive serial
In many situations like this, Will cannot escape his past. His friend from the bureau, Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina), makes a trip out to Will's home and begs him to take a look into the case introduced at the beginning of the film involving the family murderer who has been dubbed by the media "The Tooth Fairy". Reluctant, especially with the fact that returning to the FBI will extremely upset his wife, Will gives in and soon finds himself obsessed with the case. Will cannot figure the killer out on his own, and with more families being slaughtered, he becomes desperate for help. He soon turns to Lector for assistance. The brilliant doctor eventually decides to help Will out, but not without playing multiple mind games with the man who brought him to justice. The remainder of the film follows Will's investigation as he gets closer to finding "The Tooth Fairy" (Noonan), is flustered by Lector and his mind games, and finds his own family to be in danger of the elusive psychopath.
The direction of Michael Mann throughout this film, really made it stand out visually. Numerous scenes seem to be inspired by art and Mann wanting to capture beautiful scenes and shots. Mann does a masterful job with the lighting of scenes and the overall visual presentation of others like the scene involving Will Graham on the beach during a magnificent sunset. The performances also carry this movie. Will Peterson does great as leading man Will Graham. This can be especially observed as the film progresses and Will becomes warn down and mentally drained from the case. Peterson does an excellent job of conveying this hysterical and warn out state. Supporting stars Brian Cox as Hannibal Lector and Tom Noonan as "The Tooth Fairy" Francis Dollarhyde also make nothing but positive additions to the cast and overall final product of the film.
In conclusion, the first of the
Rating - ***