Monday 28 May 2018

Hangman (USA 2017: Dir Johnny Martin)

Hangman feels like a movie beamed in from another decade, with its blue/grey colour palette, grizzled anti heroes and the unnecessary plot intricacy of, say, David Fincher (Se7en and Zodiac are obvious reference points).

Al Pacino gives a rather insouciant performance as Ray Archer, retired and much loved cop brought back for one last case when his ex partner, brick outhouse-shaped Detective Will Ruiney (Karl Urban) needs assistance in catching a serial killer. Pacino's performance is all quirks and tics - he relaxes by completing puzzle books, but in Latin because, well, once an altar boy always an altar boy. "Most people go fishing when they retire," someone observes of Archer in one of the film's many script cliches (also on offer is an observation from one cop to the other that the "donut shop's open," but my favourite is the evergreen "...if the media gets hold of this they'll go into a frenzy."). Also along for the catch-a-killer ride is plucky Pulitzer nominated journalist Christi Davies (Brittany Bushwick Snow),who has inexplicably been given an access all areas pass to accompany the policemen on the job - including crime scenes - in the interests of writing an article aiming to restore the reputation of the police in the eyes of the public.

What saves Hangman from being a complete travesty is that for the most part it's a well paced, good looking thriller. It may have Blackwall Tunnel sized plot holes but Pacino, Urban and Snow are a likeable trio (it goes without saying that it's the journalist who spots the key clue that both cops have been too close to the case to notice), and if you don't exactly care about them, you don't wish them ill. The same does not go for the scriptwriter, who as well as the clunky dialogue sets up a killer whose modus operandi is so overly complicated - and yes it does involve a game of 'Hangman' with each murder providing another letter - that you want to help out just to move the film along a bit.

As a stunt arranger by trade director Johnny Martin knows how to build the action and rustles up a number of good set pieces, although an early scene, where Pacino's car gets dinged by a drive by and he gives chase, is sloppily edited, and a couple of on foot pursuit scenes go on a little too long.

Hangman is reasonably diverting but no more. Pacino can do this sort of thing in his sleep and looks like he does just that in some of his scenes. But for the most part it's a fun ride which only occasionally  prompts one to question why it was necessary to offer the world another downbeat-dysfunctional-cops-on-the-trail-of-a-serial-killer movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment