Review by Jeff Myhre
The premise of Hangman is nothing out of the ordinary. Detective Ruiney (Karl Urban) lost his wife a year ago, an unsolved murder. He was close to Detective Archer (Al Pacino) who retired after Ruiney’s wife died. Christi Davies (Brittany Snow) is a Pulitzer-Prize nominated journalist who is doing a profile of Ruiney at the insistence of the Mayor of Monroe, Georgia, which explains Pacino’s lazy drawl.
When Davies follows Ruiney out on a call, they find a hanged woman, a murder victim, which brings Archer out of retirement. Quickly, Director Johnny Martin establishes that there is a serial killer on the loose, and that the victims will be killed every night around 11 pm as part of a macabre version of the children’s spelling game Hangman.
It’s a formula piece, and some of it is rather silly. I know of no TV station that would break into its regular programming to announce that there was a serial killer on the loose in any town you care to name. Nor is there a police station with the state-of-the-art computer equipment shown here – Windows XP maybe, but budgets are tight.
Despite these occasional missteps, the serial-killer formula is executed with a pleasing precision. Pacino brings his usual flare, and Urban and Snow prove themselves to be up to the challenge. There is actually a nice chemistry among the three of them that makes the film stronger. They take a rather average script and make a go of it. Throw in some decent car chases, an explosion or two, and gore galore and you have a fun thriller. It’s not Silence of the Lambs, and the killer isn’t Dexter Morgan, but you won’t regret spending the time to see Hangman.
I have reason to believe that there might be a Hangman 2, and I beg of the studio, don’t. This one was good enough, but going back to the well won’t turn this into a viable franchise so much as it will disappoint audiences.
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