Saturday 11 November 2023

Movie Review: To Catch A Killer (2023)

Also Known As: Misanthrope
Genre: Crime Thriller
Director: Damián Szifron
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ben Mendelsohn 
Running Time: 119 minutes

Synopsis: In Baltimore, a sniper kills 29 people on New Year's Eve and disappears. Experienced FBI Agent Lammark (Ben Mendelsohn) leads the hunt for the killer, and recruits beat cop Eleanor (Shailene Woodley) onto his team. She has a sharp mind but also a dark past of rejection and self-harm. The investigation suffers from interference resulting in distractions and more casualties, including a mall shooting. Lammark and Eleanor build mutual respect as they come under extreme pressure to end the carnage.

What Works Well: A moody and dark character-driven drama benefits from imperfect protagonists wilting under the demand for immediate answers. Lammark (the experienced and initially confident agent) and Eleanor (plucked from obscurity but battling hidden demons) create an effective duo at the heart of a complex investigation. Director/co-writer Damián Szifron surrounds them with an unforgiving environment of meddling politicians, abrasive talk-show hosts, and a formidable killer, and throws in courageous narrative curves.

What Does Not Work As Well: False leads and action scenes generated by secondary atrocities overwhelm the investigative elements, leaving a void where good detective work ought to reside. The eventual clues used to track down the antagonist are comparatively vague, and the killer is unmasked too late to register as a worthwhile adversary. The effectiveness of the final showdown is compromised by contrivances. 

Conclusion: Satisfyingly intricate, but insufficiently focused.

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