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Manhunter Reviews

A grim, stylish thriller from the creator of television's "Miami Vice." Based on Thomas Harris's gripping novel Red Dragon, MANHUNTER introduces us to the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI and its top agent, Will Graham (William Petersen). The secret of Graham's success is his uncanny ability to duplicate the twisted thought processes of serial killers and thereby predict their actions. Brought out of early retirement by his friend and colleague Jack (Dennis Farina), Graham launches an investigation of a serial killer who operates on a "lunar cycle," killing entire families only when the moon is full. Graham's peculiar talent of adopting a criminal's mindset extracts a heavy emotional toll and nearly destroyed him on his last case when he captured Dr. Hannibal Lektor (Brian Cox), a brilliant psychiatrist turned brutal killer. Lektor is in prison and though Graham clearly still fears him, he visits him in an effort to get insights on his new case. He only succeeds in putting himself and his family in great danger. Writer-director Michael Mann wrote a superior script and assembled an incredible cast for MANHUNTER making one of the most underrated outstanding thrillers of the 1980s. Mann knows how to construct an intense movie and, as in his earlier THIEF, presents the viewer with a fascinating amount of procedural detail — both law-enforcement and criminal. Petersen is superb as the obsessive investigator who risks madness each time he takes on a case, and Tom Noonan is absolutely chilling as the psycho killer. Cox is also frightening as the complex Lektor, a character who would be played by Anthony Hopkins in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), HANNIBAL (2001) and RED DRAGON (2002), where the doctor's name is spelled "Lecter," as it is in the novels. Though all involved insisted RED DRAGON was a "reimagining" of the original novel, rather than a new version of MANHUNTER, it's a strikingly similar, if rather pedestrian, film. The director's cut of MANHUNTER, released on DVD, restored some ten minutes of footage trimmed from the original theatrical version.