The Hangman Blu-ray Review
On a quiet evening we find detective Ray Archer (Pacino) sitting in his car doing a puzzle. Suddenly he is side-swiped by a van, traveling down the street at a high rate of speed. He soon learns that the van is being followed by a swarm of police cars. He joins the chase and soon the van is surrounded. Guns drawn, the police order the driver out of the van. He complies. Case closed. Or is it?
A film that wants so much to be like SE7EN, but sadly isn’t anywhere near that classic, HANGMAN is a film that relies on an impossible series of plot twists (and plot holes) to achieve its ending. I’ll explain more…
We jump forward a year after the van driver’s arrest. We meet detective Will Ruiney as he is given a horrible assignment. His captain (Sarah Shahi) his mandated that, because the local population does not understand the daily job of a policeman, a reporter will have full access to a detective. This means that the reporter assigned, Christi Davies (Snow), will ride with Will and go everywhere he does. EVERYWHERE. We also learn that Will is just back to work after his wife died, but we don’t know the particulars. Will is sent out on a homicide where the victim has been brutally murdered, with a letter carded into the body before being hung. The next day, another victim…another letter. The scene repeats again the next day and Will decides to call Ray, now retired but still “the best.”
As much as I tried to enjoy this film, each time I saw something positive I was hit over the head with a poor story choice. I’ve heard of media ride-alongs but I’ve never heard of one that means the reporter not only gets to be among the first to the crime scene, they get left alone to look for clues as well. The irony of this access is that, when the captain (referred by EVERYONE in the film as “the captain”) and the reporter cross paths, the captain reminds the reporter that she wasn’t happy with the situation (which she, herself, set up) and that she’d better not be hiding anything she finds. The captain is also in a wheelchair, a fact that you will need to remember later in the film.
The performances are fine, though Pacino apparently decided to break out his Frank Slade accent from SCENT OF A WOMAN, though not as loudly. It’s so pronounced that I kept waiting him to end each sentence with a “Hoo-ahh!” Urban is convincing as a man trying to put his life back together while working a horrific crime. A chance discovery by the reporter, being where she shouldn’t, informs the audience that Will’s wife was also brutally murdered and may, in fact have been the first victim of the serial murderer. I don’t want to see it’s easy, but it takes the cops almost an hour and a half of film time to discover the identity of the killer. I figured it out in ten. Hoo-ahh!
Video: The film is presented in its original 2:39.1 aspect ratio and is well transferred. A majority of the film takes place in the dark, be it outside or inside small places, but no clarity of images is lost.
Audio: The soundtrack is presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and sounds good. Dark scenes lean more towards whispered dialogue but nothing is missed here.
Al Pacino: Insight from a Hollywood Legend (6:35): Pacino talks about his love for director Johnny Martin and what drew him to the project. Apparently this interview was recorded in the middle of a bird sanctuary because several of Pacino’s answers are covered by the sounds of shrieking birds. I’m guessing if he was half the man he was 30 years ago he’d have taken a flame thrower to that place!
“Hangman:” In Their Own Words (14:07): More interviews with Pacino, Urban and others. I was unaware that Urban was a Kiwi until he opened his mouth here.