Night Hunter

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

Night Hunter
dir-scr David Raymond
prd Robert Ogden Barnum, David Raymond, Chrisopher Pettit, Rick Dugdale
with Henry Cavill, Ben Kingsley, Alexandra Daddario, Stanley Tucci, Brendan Fletcher, Minka Kelly, Nathan Fillion, Mpho Koaho, Emma Tremblay, Eliana Jones, Daniela Lavender, Dylan Penn
release US 6.Sep.19,
UK 13.Sep.19
18/Canada 1h38

kingsley tucci fletcher

cavill and daddario
There's a hushed urgency to this slow-burn procedural thriller, which operates on a variety of fronts as it explores a series of hideous crimes. The way the film is edited together is sometimes rather disorienting, but the swirl of events knowingly mixes sharp details, emotional sideroads and very dark nastiness. The complex narrative is packed with jolts, sometimes surprises within twists, which makes it feel both messy and exhilarating.
While investigating a series of kidnappings and murders of young women, jaded Minnesota detective Marshall (Cavill) is understandably overprotective of his dustant teen daughter (Tremblay). Then he finds judge-turned-vigilante Cooper (Kingsley), who uses a young woman (Jones) to bait paedophiles and then dispense his own surgical justice. Marshall worries that Cooper is out of control, but his intel is useful. Working with profiler Rachel (Daddario) and tech whiz Quinn (Fillion), they track down Simon (Fletcher), a young man who is linked to these abductions. But he's far too mentally unhinged to provide helpful information.
The snowy setting is effective at creating a, yes, chilling tone as each revelation only ties things further into knots. And indeed the snow and ice play into the plot itself (it was shot in Winnipeg). With a resolution seeming so elusive, it's unsurprising that the commissioner (a storming Tucci) is so impatient to close the case. And as the team investigates, things get increasingly scary, with gruelling standoffs and some horrific violence. The snaky mystery makes the film gripping, much more than the action thrills or interpersonal melodrama.

Cavill brings an exhausted, hulking presence to the role, a big man who feels powerless to protect the small women around him. He has some nicely growly chemistry with Daddario, and they fill scenes with hints of their characters' past relationship. In a smaller role, Kingsley brings his usual gravitas as an angry man who is compromised by his very personal connection to this case. And Fletcher delivers another raw, steely, unnerving turn as a guy who really cannot be trusted.

Writer-director Raymond often tries to over-complicate things with unnecessary cross-cutting and awkward action sequences. But at the centre, there's some solid dramatic tension in a variety of inter-relationships, both personal and professional. Some of these work much better than others, and a few feel stirred in merely to add some weight to big moments, but the film's layered plot and disheveled characters are engaging enough to make sure that something will resonate along the way.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 30.Aug.19

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© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall