Review: Hangman

3 10

PLOT: A retired detective calls upon a former partner for help when a serial killer known as the Hangman starts killing one person a day.

REVIEW: Everything about the blatant weariness of HANGMAN can be seen in the actors' faces, no more so than Al Pacino's. We know that Al's now in this mid-70s, so it's a safe bet that not going to knock every role out of the park at this point, but we also can't expect him to gather up much enthusiasm for a tired and mind-numbingly predictable affair such as HANGMAN. It's not just Pacino, though. Everyone in the movie has an aura of despondence about them, and one can assume that it extends beyond their characters' somber moods and into the actors' unhappiness that they've chosen to be in this thing.

Hangman movie review Al Pacino Karl Urban Brittany Snow

HANGMAN is like a direct-to-cable SE7EN ripoff that came 20 years too late, where a maniacal serial killer leaves hideous clues for the dogged detectives who are always just one step behind him. In this case, the killer is playing a game of Hangman; every new victim (who has been left to hang, natch) has a letter carved into his/her body to accompany a large spray-painted version of the game on the wall. The main detective on the case is named Ruiney (Karl Urban), who - as is standard protocol for film like this - is still grieving over the loss of his beloved wife. Ruiney is in the midst of being interviewed for an article by a young reporter named Kristy (Brittany Snow) when the Hangman strikes, so he decides to actually bring her along with him for the entire investigation (just one of the many unlikely decisions made by a character in this film). Ruiney also enlists the help of Pacino's character, Archer, a retired cop who misses the heat of the action.

The trio have their work cut out for them, as the Hangman works very quickly. He kills at exactly 11pm every night, choosing victims that have vague connections to one another; he's picked a very large word for his game, so plenty of people are about the fall into his noose. Several times in the film the cops arrive just after the Hangman has done his work, and we get a brief dark and gloomy chase scene, ending with the Hangman's escape every time. The movie falls into a very reliable pattern where, for the better part of an hour, the same sequence of events plays out over and over again. This includes trips to a forensic scientist who is so nervous and upset by her job that you wonder if she's actually ever seen a corpse before; it's like they handed the dead bodies over to a dental assistant.

At the risk of entering spoiler territory, I'll say anyone hoping for a mind-blowing revelation about who the Hangman is or why he does what he does will walk away sorely disappointed, because the explanation is so arbitrary and uninteresting that I thought I had missed something. I'd expect someone who commits such gruesome murders in such a specific way to have a complex M.O., but no. What little backstory we get about the villain is hilariously lacking in actual substance. And this isn't one of those "it's scarier if we don't know why" scenarios. It's, "this is the best we could think of."

Hangman movie review Al Pacino Karl Urban Brittany Snow

As mentioned, Pacino looks run ragged throughout the film, sometimes barely talking above a whisper (with an accent that I think is supposed to be southern but it's hard to tell). A handful of times does he approach looking interested in the proceedings, but for the most part it's a clear case of going through the motions. Karl Urban fares only slightly better, successfully wearing an expression of intense consternation for much of the running time. It's not a bad performance - Urban certainly still has screen presence - it's just entirely one-note. We've seen what the actor can do with good material; he doesn't get to do any of that here. As the third member of the unlikely trio, Snow similarly does what she can with a character that is barely fleshed-out. Unfortunately for her, it would appear as though the only information given to her about Kristy is that she was "once nominated for a Pulitzer."

I can only imagine how unwatchable this movie would be if it didn't at least have three appealing actors trying to remain engaged in it. The screenplay is ridiculous even by this genre's standards, and the movie as a whole is so straight-faced and monotonous that we can't even enjoy it as mindless popcorn entertainment. It's more like a script for a television procedural that was fished out of the trash and turned into a feature.

Source: JoBlo.com



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