Ok so who isn’t on the Hannibal bandwagon these days? When we decided to get Amazon Prime, I sat down and watched the first complete season that is posted on there in a week (I have a very boring job that allows me a lot of down time to watch things… so no judgements please). I was immediately mad about Mads (Mikkelsen that is!… Thank you Flop House podcast!), but man I could not stand that whiny Hugh Dancy (I hear he gets better in the second season, fingers crossed). This got me thinking about other interpretations of Hannibal Lector and Will Graham stories and it led me to watching a Michael Mann movie from the mid-eighties called Manhunter. Is this a better interpretation of the Hannibal story than I have seen in Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal?
Spoiler Alert: It is not.
Will Graham this time is played by William Peterson (originating the dark-haired scruffy beard look that Hugh Dancy sports in the series) and the Hannibal character is played by Brian Cox. Graham is called back to the FBI to track down a man who has odd tendencies. Graham dives into the murders and sees what the investigators cannot, including that the killer watches his victims from a tree and that he has a fascination with sight. But as per usual Graham is stumped. He calls on his previous catch, Hannibal Lector, to help him. Lector teases him and prods him but is of no real help until at the crucial moment. Meanwhile the serial killer, Frances, befriends a young blind woman. He takes her to his estate and makes love to her. But she will soon fall victim to him as well unless Graham can figure out who this person is and why he is killing the people he does.
I am not a fan of Michael Mann, and this is pure Mann territory. The white washed architecture, the popsicle color landscapes and the playing it close to the chest and not revealing anything about his characters just does not do it for me. He takes good actors like Brian Cox and Tom Noonan (who plays the serial killer) and muddles their performances by cutting too quickly away from them to focus on the milquetoast of Will Graham. I know that Graham is the main character, but I am here to watch the serial killers. Speaking of serial killers, Hannibal is barely in this movie. When he is the movie quickly comes alive with tension given Graham and his history. It is a sin to not have him worked into the plot a little bit more, especially when you have such a great actor portraying him. Cox was born to play that character. He can play dully sinister (Hannibal is behind bars, so he can’t physically get at Graham. He can only psychologically taunt him) so well. The same goes for Tom Noonan who plays the main serial killer (He is the same serial killer that Red Dragon focuses on). He is born to play odd characters and menacing characters. My conclusion is: more serial killers and you can have your damn popsicle color palette all god damn day.