Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
and Cary Elwes
What's it about
A former Ted Bundy profiler is asked to help solve the Green River killings. Thing is, his old pal Bundy calls and says he has insights into the killings. Many interviews and creepy Bundy moments follow.
Is it good movie?
Fans of serial killer movies know what to expect from their films. There better be a creepy killer. There better be a flawed hero. There better but some killing. And there better beÖCary Elwes?! Yep, the man who once played Robin Hood in tights, plays the quintessential killer Ted Bundy in the 2004 made-for-TV movie The Riverman, and I got to say, heís pretty good. Elwes has always been dependable, and Iím not exactly sure when he lost favor in Hollywood. His work has remained steady, but come on. He is Westley! Show the man some respect! I would have never pictured him in such a role as Bundy, but who am I to doubt him? I canít think of a role that Elwes never delivered in. And he sure as hell does here.
With a name like The Riverman, the title is a little misleading. For anyone familiar with serial killers like myself, I expected (wrongly of course) for the movie to focus on hunting the Green River Killer. And in fact, within the first 30 minutes or so, I kept thinking the whole thing was a just a cheap rip-off of Silence of the Lambs as profiler Robert Keppel (the always effective Bruce Greenwood) goes to interview Bundy, a man he once tried to catch but failed. Bundy had sent the man a package informing him that he could help with the Washington case from death row. Stupid me.
Little did I know that this is based upon true events. These interviews led the closure of many of Bundyís unsolved cases, and it led Thomas Harris to create Hannibal Lector and all of his zany adventures. And itís easy to see why Harris found inspiration here. The Green River Killer plays in the background, just giving Bundy a reason for him to haunt the very man who pursued him. To fill alive again while locked away. But thatís the story. The best and perhaps the only reason to watch is for interplay from Bundy and Keppel. Together, they are the movie. Both actors create effective layers within already established characters (Bundy is very Lector here and Keppel obviously is the inspiration for Red Dragonís Will Graham) without resorting to stereotypes or overused clichťs.
Of course, part of the reason the film focuses nearly solely on those interviews is either because of the budget or the lackluster directing by Bill Eagles. Maybe lackluster is poor word choice. Iíll go with underwhelming. The presentation is effectively dull, which only highlights the talents of Greenwood and Elwes. They shine through despite the movie itself. Everything feels like TV movie here, and even though originally I didnít know it came from A&E, it sure as hell played like a TV movie. What I donít understand is why the studio is sending out a screener copy to a six year old TV movie. Iím sure itíll be a hot commodity.
Video / Audio
Video: A semi fuzzy Widescreen presentation.
Audio: Presented with the power of 2.0 Surround.
Notta that I know of. Screener.
The Riverman is a pretty good flick with even better acting by the two leads. Thereís nothing mind blowing here, but the Elwes is worth the rental for fans of killer movies. If this had a higher budget, Iíd prefer this to the terrible, stomach turning Brent the Ratís Red Dragon. The Riverman has actors who cared for their material. And that says something.