Film Review: Hangman

Director Johnny Martin’s Hangman is a crime thriller in which the end result does not live up to the initial promise. 

Police detective Will seeks out the help of homicide veteran detective Ray in helping to solve a grisly new crime. The duo are joined by journalist Christi as they attempt to find a serial killer before he claims his next victim…

Hangman feels a bit like a feature-length CSI style show, albeit with a Hollywood cast. The premise is fine, focussing on a serial killer who leaves clues to their next crime. There is also the backstory of what is plaguing detective Will, and the presence of a reporter. Yet these elements do not tie together as well as they could have.

Some of the guessing of clues seems spurious, and leaves Hangman open to plot holes. The death each day device is used to generate tension, but in the second half of the film, it feels sloppy in leading the detectives to the next crime. In the final third of the film, the detectives work out how the crimes tie together, and who the culprit is. Director Martin misses a trick by making the murderer very vocal; this strips away any terror surrounding the culprit of some gruesome crime. 

As the trio become further involved in the case, it seems a bit silly that they are always first on the scene, when logic would suggest sending a patrol car would be a swifter option.  Nevertheless, for the first half of the  film at least, the mystery is engaging. The combination of a detective, a very experienced retired detective and a journalist provided something different, even if it is a bit far fetched. 

Al Pacino deserves better than the script offers him. Performances by Karl Urban and Brittany Snow are perfectly fine. Production values are more akin to a television series than a feature film. 

Hangman aims for a similar vibe to Seven, but falls short. There is some promise, but ultimately it is a flawed mystery. 

Hangman will be available to watch on Digital Download from 4th June 2018.

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Film Review: Bushwick

Directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott’s thriller Bushwick has a lot of promise. Although the film is ultimately a bit uneven, it has several things going for it.

Lucy arrives at her neighbourhood metro station in Bushwick, New York, and something appears to be wrong. The area is under attack from an unknown source, and Lucy must rely on the help of a stranger to get back home…

Bushwick is a low-budget action thriller which attempts to punch above its weight. On a number of occasions, the film is successful in this endeavour. Murnion and Milott start proceedings with an impressive opening sequence. This effectively conveys the confusion and terror felt by protagonist Lucy. It is also a good showcase of the directors’ technical abilities.

Another thing that Bushwick does well is keep its viewers in the dark about the identity of the film’s antagonists. For a significant portion of the film, it is unclear who is attacking the neighbourhood, and why they are doing so. When details are revealed, the writers tease at an interesting racial dynamic. This feels remarkably resonant, given very recent news events. Yet despite the introduction of this social theme, the film does not explore it in any real depth. Instead, action and a focus on the protagonists dominant proceedings.

Although the action sequences are decent throughout, the film is less convincing in its quieter scenes. Here, wooden dialogue hinders the character and plot development. Furthermore, Lucy’s new-found fighting capabilities stretch the suspension of disbelief. Whilst the film rightly depicts her determination and strength, it is a bit of a stretch for her to make great shots having never used a weapon.

Brittany Snow delivers a decent performance as Lucy. However, it is Dave Bautista who is the more memorable presence as the haunted Stupe. Bushwick generates some interesting ideas, yet the film does not pursue its most intriguing one with any real conviction.

Bushwick is released in select cinemas on the 25th August and on digital download and TVOD on 28th August 2017.