I'm going through director and writer Michael Mann's catalog of movies. Even though I'm a huge fan of Mann's work, I still haven't seen everything. But I think I'm down to just one or two missing items.

I thought I'd seen Manhunter, but having just watched it on Prime, I realized I was mistaken. I'd only seen fragments of it.

It's an early adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon, which has since been adapted again. The movie features William Petersen as an FBI profiler and the Scottish actor Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecter (spelled Lecktor in the credits).

Manhunter was filmed shortly after Mann's hugely successful Miami Vice TV show debuted. No doubt the success of the TV show allowed Mann the opportunity to fund the feature. It has much of the same style of Miami Vice with the moody synth soundtrack, pastel '80s wardrobe and interiors, and Mann's characteristic moody lighting (see above). Although I have enjoyed Petersen in other roles I felt he played Will Graham a little too stiff in the first half. He came off like Jack Webb's Joe Friday from Dragnet. He's excellent in later scenes though.

Brian Cox's performance as Hannibal the Cannibal had a subtle intensity but honestly pales in comparison to Sir Anthony Hopkins's later acting as Lecter.

It comes across as slightly dated and feels like more could have been done with Graham and the object of Graham's search, serial killer Francis Dollarhyde.

It was a little weird for me to see a young Joan Allen as a target of the killer as I had only become aware of her in later movies when she was older. I almost didn't recognize her. Her performance was adequate but the character was a little shallow.

I always like Michael Mann's work but this isn't one of his best, and the script, or at least the final edit, left a feeling of a mid-tier result. Yet Mann went on to greater things. It's hard to believe it's the same director who made The Last Of The Mohicans just a few years later.

I will still watch it again. Mann just has a sensibility that resonates with me. I'd rather watch his worst work than most other directors' best.


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