4th June (UK VOD release)
A homicide detective teams up with a criminal profiler to catch a serial killer whose crimes are inspired by the children's game Hangman.
Al Pacino, Karl Urban, Brittany Snow
In Johnny Martin’s Hangman, decorated homicide detective Ray Archer (Al Pacino) partners with criminal profiler Will Ruiney (Karl Urban) to catch one of the city’s notoriously vicious serial killers, who is playing a twisted version of murder inspired by the children’s game Hangman.
Every 24 hours, a body is hung revealing the next letter carved into the victim’s body. As crime journalist Christi Davies (Brittany Snow) reports on the crime spree, the trio must race against the clock to prevent further murders. Archer and Ruiney become more entangled in the ruthless game than they could ever have imagined, but they must keep playing to save lives and attempt to catch the Hangman.
Screen legend Al Pacino heads up the cast but doesn’t look particularly invested in the action while adopting one of the most peculiar accents heard all year. Still, it’s wonderful to see him in a leading role at the age of 78, even if it’s not a role that will stand out on his impressive resume.
If Pacino looks like he’s going through the motions, co-star Karl Urban acts enough for the both of them. His over-performance looks to be done in an attempt to impress the icon Pacino – not that you can blame him. Unfortunately he’s not convincing enough as a grizzled and troubled detective, resulting in an ineffective double team of talent that could have been so much more.
Brittany Snow rounds out the trio as a crime journalist – by description only. Her character does nothing of note to warrant her being in the movie at all and I’d have liked to have seen her actions have more consequences, or for her to have been a devious inclusion.
As for the story, it’s engaging enough to keep you guessing for the majority of the films 98 minute duration and the idea of a Hangman killer harks back to the preposterous Grindhouse serial killer movies of the 70s and 80s. Unlike those campy guilty pleasures though, Hangman plays it completely straight faced with a drained colour palette that makes David Fincher’s similarly themed classic crime thriller Se7en look like when Dorothy first arrives in Oz.
It’s difficult, however, to shake the feeling of the narrative not quite being feature-length worthy in 2018, instead working better as a potential ‘killer of the week’ episode of a particularly star-studded police drama. The pacing leaves a lot to be desired too, with the point consistently hammered home that the duo are running out of time yet the meandering speed that the story moves not accurately reflecting the urgent nature of what’s at stake.
Nevertheless, with some ropey performances and sluggish pacing aside, Hangman just about swings through to a recommendation thanks to an unpredictable, albeit ultimately formulaic, finale.
Hangman will be available as a Digital Download from June 4th on iTunes, Amazon, Rakuten TV, Play, Microsoft, Sky Store, TalkTalk, Vubiquity and BT.
Engaging enough to keep you guessing
Good idea, even if it's more suited to a 'killer of the week' format of a TV show
Pacino looks bored while Urban tries his hardest to impress him