A stellar acting cast. The promise of an intense, crime thriller. A bearded Henry Cavill donning a procession of fantastic jumpers?! On the surface, Night Hunter (or Nomis as it was previously titled) has so much going for it but somehow it manages to get almost everything so drastically wrong.
An unnamed (his name is Marshall apparently – I had to Google this as I’m pretty sure his name isn’t mentioned at all) police officer (Henry Cavill) is called to the scene of an apparent suicide but questions are raised when upon inspection, the victim shows clear signs of being restrained. This (tenuously) leads to a team being set up to find the active serial-abductor, lead by Rachel (Alexandra Daddario) and Commissioner Stanley Tucci (I don’t know his name either). Meanwhile, Cooper (Ben Kingsley) and his foul-mouthed-for-literally-no-reason-at-all, young protege Lara are going around the local community trapping and castrating paedophiles – because why not? When Lara is kidnapped after somehow inexplicably getting into the wrong car when leaving a diner, the police are led to a house where Simon (Brendan Fletcher), a man with some serious issues and an even more serious saliva problem, is arrested after Lara and another young girl are found in his basement. Simon’s questioning by the police is the catalyst to a series of events that aspire to resemble David Fincher’s Se7en but end up being more like its illegitimate twin brother. It even has its own “What’s in the box?!” moment. I’m not joking.
Night Hunter is so narratively incoherent and contrived and a lot of the blame for this can be placed at the door of the editing. The opening third of the film is so relentless in its pacing that it doesn’t stop and take a breath to allow us to get to know our protagonists or understand the bizarre police department dynamic that exists at the station or get to grips with just what the actual fuck is going on. The rest of the film follows along a similar theme. There’s no sense of time. No sense of chronology. No sense of structure. The editing problems can be surmised by a call of “Is this film, like, finished or…?” from the other end of the sofa as we watched.
But the editing team shouldn’t take all of the credit. The writing leaves a lot to be desired too. Marshall moves from one inexplicable act to the other, which peaks with his decision to leave his young, teenage daughter unattended at home as he hunts for an individual who *checks notes* kidnaps and kills young girls. What interaction there is between our protagonists is eye-rolling at best, coma-inducing at worst. There’s a hint of a previous sexual relationship between Cavill and Daddario’s characters which isn’t expanded on at all so I’m assuming it’s just because they’re both stupidly attractive and that’s how the world works. On that point, I do think casting Cavill as a washed-up cop was what can only be described as an “interesting” decision. He seems really misplaced here, accent and all. I mean seriously – how many down-on-their-luck folk have biceps bigger than their own head?
I have no idea how they managed to get Ben Kingsley and Stanley Tucci to sign up given how little they had to do. Cavill and Daddario’s performances, particularly the latter, have fleeting moments that remind us what they can do but they are sadly few and far between though this is through probably no fault of their own. Daddario’s best moments arrive in the form of her interview scenes with Simon which leads nicely onto the standout performance which comes from Brendan Fletcher himself. His take on the deranged Simon is one of the few redeeming features. The best compliment I can give him is that he was completely believable in the role but even then he is undermined by the technical failings on display here with noticeably poor audio quality which was a shame. The character of Simon appears very similar to McAvoy’s multi-personality outing in Split and he really comes into his own as the film builds towards its finale.
Ah yes. The finale. The pièce de résistance of every crime thriller. You could almost forgive everything that had gone before if it had all been leading to an enthralling, eye-widening, adrenaline-pumping climax. It’s rather fitting then that the finale falls just as flat as everything that precedes it and that’s before I even begin to touch on the questionable ice-based physics of it all.
The entire thing just feels unfinished and unloved – which I’m sure was not the case at all but this is such a poor end product. Do you remember that time that you were at university and you were up at 3am with the 9am submission deadline getting closer by the second? Words had ceased to look like words, nothing made sense anymore and it had gotten to the point where you just said “fuck it” and submitted your essay without bothering to proofread it just so you were able to go and get drunk and forget about it? Yeah. That.
Directed by: David Raymond
Cast: Henry Cavill, Alexandra Daddario, Stanley Tucci, Ben Kingsley, Brendan Fletcher
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