Film Review: Hangman

A reporter and two detectives track a serial killer in this dully formulaic thriller.
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Tough but damaged reporter Christi Davies (Brittany Snow) has covered some challenging stories, but the serial killer dubbed “The Hangman”—who not only strings up his victims but leaves behind cryptic clues modeled on the morbid children's word game—poses a real challenge. And the longer the investigation led by haunted profiler Ruiney (Karl Urban) and legendary detective Ray Archer (Al Pacino), who's come out of retirement to pursue the all-too-real bogeyman, takes, the more innocent people will die.

With well over a hundred credits on his resume, stuntman-turned-director Johnny Martin clearly knows how to stage an action scene. But he doesn't seem to have much of a way with actors. Karl Urban is a competent tough guy but lacks range; he's not up to the challenge of playing a truly troubled cop whose problems are intensified by the case he's working—not the way, say, Al Pacino was when he starred in Cruising. And sadly, Pacino isn't that Pacino anymore either; his performance as the tough old pro who returns to sleuthing smacks of an actor who took the gig as an excuse to get out of the house and is seriously undermined by a peculiar and unidentifiable accent. Oh, and his quirky hobby is doing crossword puzzles in Latin, which he apparently speaks because he's a former altar boy. Rounding out the leads, Brittany Snow is thoroughly unconvincing as a top-notch, prize-winning New York Times reporter.

All that said, the larger problem is Michael Caissie and Charles Huttinger's script, which is built around a by-now tired trope—a brilliant sociopath murdering his way through some personal obsession—and does nothing original with it. Partnered with a cast of stereotypes, the result is a slog of a movie, an instantly forgettable rehash of genre rehashes that isn't even engaging on a "Who done it?" level.

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