Review: Night Hunter

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

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PLOT: A troubled cop (Henry Cavill), a police profiler (Alexandra Daddario), and a vigilante (Ben Kingsley) reluctantly work together to solve the mystery of an arrested serial killer (Brendan Fletcher) who may not be working alone.

REVIEW: NIGHT HUNTER is a good example of a film where during the casting process they clearly tried to fill all the roles with the biggest, most prominent names they could find, with little regard as to whether or not the roles were actually a good use of the talent involved. That’s why you’ve got actors like Stanley Tucci playing a generic cop role, Nathan Fillion in a part that seems like it was at least partially removed during the editing process (before getting an unceremonius send-off), and Minka Kelly, a one-time leading lady, in what’s essentially a walk-on.

This is clearly an attempt to exploit the enduring box office appeal of serial killer stories, although it takes a certain artfulness to tell these stories in a way that won’t be deemed exploitative. I’d argue David Fincher, with SE7EN, ZODIAC and MINDHUNTER is the master of the genre, while MANHUNTER and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS are other enduring examples of the genre done right. NIGHT HUNTER has more in common with generic serial killer fluff like THE WATCHER, with little to recommend outside of a minor tour-de-force performance by Canadian actor Brendan Fletcher as the serial killer baddie — a seemingly mentally incapacitated young man who seems to have multiple personalities (or does he).

Otherwise, this is pretty routine stuff. The leads, Cavill, Daddario and Kingsley have all been better elsewhere, and certainly, the younger cast members seem miscast. Cavill wears long hair and a beard in an effort to maybe look like William Petersen in MANHUNTER, but he seems boyish to be playing the hard-bitten veteran lieutenant with a teenage daughter addicted to social media and a troubled relationship with his ex. Daddario also seems a bit too young and glamorous to be playing the profiler, whose distracted by her marriage to a serial cheater. She does her best in a change of pace role, but like Cavill, she isn’t believable as a veteran cop — this might have worked better if both leads had been cast about a decade older, although then again it’ll likely be Cavill and Daddario that’ll attract anyone who happens to check it out — although there’s a reason this is getting a pretty modest release.

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While Daddario and Cavill seem miscast, Ben Kingsley is cast exactly to type — maybe too much so as he played a very similar role about a decade back in the underrated SUSPECT ZERO. Here he’s a retired judge who, after a lifetime of being forced to let so of repeated sexual offenders, has become a vigilante, with him and his ward, a young survivor of sexual abuse (Eliana Jones) entrapping offenders via the internet, castrating them (with the help of a surgeon) and then forcing them to make financial restitution to their victims. Kingsley could play this role in his sleep, but I liked his chemistry with Jones and the two were intriguing enough that I wish they had been the focus of the film rather than Cavill, as given how many good hard-boiled cop serial killer movies there are, a so-so one can’t help but pale in comparison.

All that said, NIGHT HUNTER isn’t a particularly bad B-movie. Something in the script must have attracted the starry-cast (Fillion’s involvement is a real head-scratcher), but it doesn’t come across in this contrived, familiar story. The miscasting of the leads doesn’t help, but where writer-director David Raymond’s film suffers the most is a lack of style. It feels, at times, like a TV movie. As a time-waster on streaming, NIGHT HUNTER is passable, but despite an interesting performance by Fletcher and some good moments between Kingsley and Jones, this is all too routine to make it worth a recommendation.

Night Hunter



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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.