This genre of film will never die; ingested tenfold in TV shows like CSI and NCIS, the human delight in vicarious murder, mystery and who-dun-it's is as strong as ever — and the newest addition to the ever-growing genre of low-key murder fantasy doesn't disappoint. Hangman is a spiritual successor to every mystery genre film since the first iterations, like the Charlie Chan films of the 1930's.
Hangman, starring Al Pacino and Karl Urban, is the newest offering in the timeless genre. Simply having Pacino cast, main role or otherwise, is going to bring attention to your movie. Film stars of his caliber are usually picky about the films they choose to star in, meaning he's either liked the script or it's a personal project (or it's Nic Cage and a conundrum). Pairing Pacino with Karl Urban, who himself already has a phenomenal portfolio, increases your chances of a blockbuster — after all, the New Zealand-born heartthrob is showing no signs of slowing down. Next, add a dash of the always-popular serial killer plotline and a spoonful of b'dass cop drama and you have what has to be the formula for the comfort food of Hollywood.
Hangman follows brazenly in the footsteps of other genre greats like Seven, Zodiac, Copycat, etc. You know the genre. You love the films. You plan how you'd have gotten away with it. You sick fuck.
The plot, while decent enough, was often rather simple; hangman isn't exactly a game of chess. The cops never even try to figure out the word the killer is attempting to spell out, which is the very point of the game and probably a pretty important clue. Also, the clues that our officers pick up on are often either overly simple or impossible guesses with little actual detective work involved — more like following a trail of breadcrumbs from one crime scene to the next. Much of the appeal of this genre is having the viewer play along and try to figure out the mystery, the twist, the motive...with Hangman, that opportunity never quite presents itself.
*Minor spoiler — skip to next paragraph* As an example, Pacino's character realises that they need to sweep the river because a corpse froze more quickly than the meat surrounding it. How one jumps from frozen corpse to sweeping a river is just beyond my detecting abilities.
Pacino's character sometimes seems to be parodying himself; his accent, nonchalance and deadpan line deliveries produce a one-dimensional protagonist that needed a bit more depth. Urban did somewhat better but was no more likeable than Pacino. Brittany Snow's character, Cristi, was honestly little more than a third wheel and was for the most part irrelevant; an additional castingfor the sake of having a female protagonist, sometimes feeling written in. That said, she was probably the most relatable and likeable out of the three, although offering little when it came to the progression of the story.
Personal irks aside, the film is very watchable and highly entertaining. The pacing is great with very few lulls in action and excitement. The story is decent and flows well from act to act. Sure, it can be cheesy at times but the killer and his conundrums keep your attention throughout. A decent budget ensures great effects, explosions, car chases, gun fights...everything you depraved delinquents desire. Hangman manages to check all the boxes and delivers what it set out to — a smart murder/mystery that, whilst generic, satisfies.
The final act plays out as expected, perhaps too much so. I expected a little more but got what was needed. Once the last act ended, my bloodlust was sated and my interest waned. There was a tiny twist that left a possibility for a sequel, but I don't genuinely see that happening. Hangman was a good watch but was not hung well enough to warrant another.
As always, thanks for reading and stay sordid. Catch the trailer below. Definitely a good watch for a date night or those looking for a fun killer thriller. Hangman will be available for digital download on multiple platforms on June 4th.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.