Manhunter is an unpleasantly gripping thriller that rubs one’s nose in a sick criminal mentality for two hours.
Pic is based upon Thomas Harris’ well-received novel Red Dragon and deals with a southern former FBI agent (William Petersen) who is summoned from retirement to work on a particularly perplexing case, that of a mass murderer who appears to stalk and select his victims with particular care.
Petersen’s excellent deductive talents are due, in large measure, to his tendency to deeply enter the minds of killers, to begin thinking like them.
This trick takes the film into interesting Hitchcockian guilt transference territory and Mann’s grip on his material is tight and sure. Director is at all times preoccupied by visual chic.
Tom Noonan cuts a massive swath as the killer, who late in the game is surprisingly humanized by a blind girl, played in enormously touching fashion by Joan Allen.