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Hangman review - star talent is wasted on this tired and unoriginal 'thriller'


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Hangman tells the story of a serial killer who, as the title suggests, carves letters into his victims that provide clues to his next murders, in a twisted interpretation of the titular word game.

Investigating the string of murders are detectives Will Ruiney and retired Ray Archer, played respectively by Karl Urban and Al Pacino. The latter was called out of retirement and onto the investigation after both of their badge numbers were found carved at the first crime scene.

Predictably, Archer is a cop who could never let go of the job, and Ruiney is a man haunted by the unresolved murder of his wife. So far, so stereotypical. The pair are joined by New York Times reporter Christi Davies, played by a wasted Brittany Snow, who is determined to ease tensions between the police and public by telling the officers’ side of the story.

Together the ‘unlikely’ trio must race against the clock to save the victims, and attempt to uncover the Hangman’s identity.

An hour-and-a-half of sheer banality, Hangman is both formulaic and unoriginal, ultimately better suited to a police procedural pilot than a feature film. It’s difficult to accept the film’s B-movie quality when such talented names are attached to it, yet so is the case.

Snow and Urban go far beyond the call of duty and give solid performances, despite a cheesy, tired script and one-dimensional characterisations. Even Pacino pains to rescue his character, despite his experienced and wearied gravitas; the actors’ performances certainly give more to the film than the writers ever gave to them. Despite their best efforts, no star power can sufficiently elevate a film that is the mere sum of its clichés.

The film is without any ounce of originality, a blatant rip-off of David Fincher’s Seven and others of the kind: Every turn of the narrative is predictable, from their first suspect proving not to be the killer to Christi’s eventual attack, only to be saved by the two detectives. As every plot is anticipated, the very premise of suspense on which a thriller film relies is nulled.

The high-IQ sociopath murdering his way through childhood trauma, and not being stopped until he attacks the heroes personally. Nothing original is done with this tired concept and, coupled with an ensemble of stereotypes for characters, the film lacks the ability to incite even a shred of concern for its protagonists.

An instantly forgotten remix of genre tropes, Hangman only manages to stay afloat by relying upon its overqualified cast.

Hangman is available on digital download from the 28th September, distributed by The Movie Partnership.


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