Directed by: Johnny Martin
Written by: Michael Caissie, Charles Huttinger
Starring: Al Pacino, Karl Urban, Brittany Snow
Though It did get a limited theatrical run, Hangman has all the earmarks of a direct-to-DVD production. While I love both Al Pacino and Karl Urban, I wish they had just said no to this film.
The basic story is that an aging retired detective (Pacino) is drawn back in for one last case with his old friend (Urban). Snow plays a dutiful reporter on the typical movie ride-along that ultimately turns into a blast for her. Urban is struggling with the recent murder of his wife to whom was introduced by his good buddy, Pacino. Of course, this is all very vague for the first thirty minutes or so and it’s difficult to tell why they have such a bond or why they’re both so tormented over the subject. As our serial killer steps up his game, our detectives and their plucky sidekick reporter struggle while trying to catch the killer on a 24-hour murder cycle while at the same time struggling with the dialog. The most believable scene in the entire film is Snow’s confession as to why she’s trying to write her story. In the end, the loss is measured not only bodies but in the time you spent watching this movie.
The setting is a town, Monroe, in which Pacino has been a detective for over 30 years. I found the city settings to be very strange. In some ways, the place felt very small, as evidenced by the police station interiors which resembled an old southern mansion rather than an upscale modern workspace. Yet, they had computer equipment that rivaled what you would expect to find and Bill Gates’ home. Everything else was very generic so it was impossible to tell which “Monroe” this was supposed to be.
The dialogue was so bland and boring that you could almost feel Urban’s creative soul withering away on screen. Even the often energetic and intense Pacino couldn’t bring any heat to the words given him. The veteran actor did try to affect an accent to lend some depth to his one-dimensional character, but it comes off very forced and almost comical at times. Only Snow’s aforementioned confession and the 5 minutes we get with the killer near the end of the film had any real heat or emotion to them.
Probably the worst offense the movie offered was the last second “twist” that leaves the wretched story open for a sequel. One would hope that all the talent would balk at the offer to reprise their respective roles in the future.
Both Pacino and Urban have done far better in their careers so rather than sitting down to Hangman, maybe get out the paper and pencil and play the real thing with the family instead. You’ll be glad you did.