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To Catch a Killer


With echoes of "Silence of the Lambs" and "Seven", TO CATCH A KILLER is an excellent, suspenseful thriller anchored by three great performances, only two of which I'll talk about.

Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies) is Baltimore beat cop Eleanor, saddled with taking care of vagrants at a diner on New Year's Eve.

When a lethal sniper begins killing dozens from a downtown perch, she's thrust into the action, showing some great instincts in a traumatic situation.

The entire opening sequence is brilliantly shot and structured by Academy Award nominated Director/Writer Damien Szifron.

He drops you into the crime scene from above, below and within. I've never seen any of his other films, but I want to now. After twenty minutes, I was all in.

As the smoke clears and the scale of the murders is revealed, FBI Special Agent Lammark arrives on scene.

Ben Mendelsohn is perfect in the role. He brings the same instant gravitas to the part that he did to Krennic in "Rogue One" and especially Ralph Anderson in Stephen King's "The Outsider" miniseries. (If you havent seen "The Outsider", drop everything and dive in. It's incredible.)

Lammark takes charge, details how the chase to catch the mass murderer will take place and almost instantly notices Eleanor and her intuition. He adds her to his task force alongside his usual right hand man Jack (Jovan Adepo from "Overlord" and "Babylon").

What follows is not a predictable Dateline-type thriller. Szifron immerses you in the behind the scenes politics and mechanics of trying to identify and capture a suspect. False leads are created by bad decisions and violence explodes on both a small and a grand scale.

Like Clarice in "Lambs", Eleanor is the perfect person to track our killer because her personal demons seem aligned with the killer. Woodley is fantastic, creating a very flawed character you'll cheer for until the very last frame. The quiet, fleeting moment between Eleanor and Chief Jackson (Mark Camacho) in the final scene is perfect.

She matches Mendelsohn in every scene and watching their characters play off each other for two fast-paced hours is as enjoyable as crime thrillers get.

The third great performance is by the actor playing the killer. I'll say no more as the last thing I want to do is spoil the chase in anyway. All I'll say is the voice, the delivery of the dialogue and the quiet moments in the final twenty minutes create one of the most fully realized killers at the movies since Hopkins brought us Lecter, high praise for an unknown actor in great creative hands.

TO CATCH A KILLER is a rare thing these days, a near flawless adult crime thriller with top notch acting, writing and direction. Out of nowhere and leaving me hungry for more, it gets an A.




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