Manhunter (1986) - Rotten Tomatoes


Manhunter (1986)



Critic Consensus: Michael Mann introduces audiences to Hannibal Lecter for the first time in Manhunter, a modish thriller that fleshes out Thomas Harris' heinous creations with an elegant, chilling detachment.

Manhunter Photos

Movie Info

This stylish psychological thriller was adapted by Michael Mann from the novel by Thomas Harris. Will Graham (William Petersen) is a burned-out FBI agent who retired after hunting and capturing Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Brian Cox), a psychopathic but brilliant serial killer. Will reluctantly returns to work to help find a new killer, who specializes in killing entire families. Will uses his empathic understanding of the motivations of the killers to help catch them, despite the psychological toll this takes upon him and his family. Brian Cox, in a great cameo as Hannibal Lektor, gives an interestingly physical and sexually menacing performance in a role which later won an Academy Award for Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Tom Noonan, in an interesting, psychologically complex performance, plays the killer whom he makes surprisingly understandable. Joan Allen is also fine as the blind woman whom the killer falls in love with. Their love scene -- as the killer experiences compassion and normal sexual attraction for the first time -- is outstanding and unforgettable. While it is overshadowed by the widely acclaimed Silence of the Lambs, Manhunter, based on the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon holds its own as a suspenseful, psychological thriller directed with flair and style.

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Kim Greist
as Molly Graham
Joan Allen
as Reba McClane
Brian Cox
as Dr. Hannibal Lecktor
Dennis Farina
as Jack Crawford
Stephen Lang
as Freddy Lounds
Tom Noonan
as Francis Dollarhyde
David Seaman Jr.
as Kevin Graham
Hannah Cacciano
as Sherman Children
Lindse Fonora
as Sherman Child #2
Dan Butler
as Jimmy Price
Ryan Langhorne
as Jacobi Boy
Michele Shay
as Beverly Katz
Paul Perri
as Dr. Sidney Bloom
Bill Cwikowski
as Ralph Dandridge
Alex Neil
as Eileen
Norman Snow
as Springfield
Jim Zubiena
as Spurgen
Garcelle Beauvais
as Young Woman Housebuyer
Joanne Camp
as Mother on Plane
Lisa Ryall
as Mrs. Leeds
Chris Cianciolo
as Attendant
Ken Colquitt
as Husband Housebuyer
Ron Fitzgerald
as Storage Guard
Dennis Quick
as Storage Guard
David Meeks
as Dr. Warfield
Sherman Michaels
as Technician
Robin Trapp
as Secretary
Lisa Winters
as Secretary
Dan Snow
as State Trooper
Cynthia Chvatal
as Airport Waitress
Daniel T. Snow
as State Trooper
King White
as Swat Man
Mickey Lloyd
as Atlanta Detective
Dawn Carmen
as Child on Plane
Steve Hogan
as Helicopter Pilot
Mickey Pugh
as Lear Jet Technician
Kin Shriner
as Mr. Sherman
John Posey
as Mr. Jacobi
Kristin Holby
as Mrs. Jacobi
Bill Smitrovich
as Lloyd Bowman
Peter Maloney
as Dr. Dominick Princi
Greg Kelly
as Jacobi Boy
Jason Frair
as Leeds Children
Bryant Arrants
as Leeds Children
Christopher Arrants
as Leeds Children
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Critic Reviews for Manhunter

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (9)

... "Manhunter" is a gory and gorgeous cop thriller...

January 4, 2018 | Full Review…

Manhunter ushered in the age of empathy for the devil.

February 7, 2007

I'm intrigued by that stylistic envelope: simultaneously hypnotic and enervating, meditative and empty.

February 7, 2007 | Full Review…

One of the most impressive American thrillers of the late '80s.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

The movie drives along with such intensity for much of the time that you can just let it work on your senses without worrying about whether it makes sense.

August 30, 2004 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

A slick and glossy thriller that still stands out.

May 2, 2003 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Manhunter


Working better as an interesting procedural in the way it leads us through a criminal investigation, this film is however less efficient as a character study about a psychopath (or psychopaths if you include Lecktor), as it doesn't offer that much insight into their perverse minds.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Granted the ensemble, award-winning cast of 'Red Dragon' squarely surpasses the B-list actors of this film and the neon-green font credits insinuate a hip vibe (although the blue filters would certainly substantiate that misconception), but 'Manhunter' is a supremely haunting adaptation of Thomas Harris first Hannibal Lecter novel. The discrepancies between 'Manhunter' and 'Red Dragon' are paramount at the beginning with the recruitment interaction between Crawford and Graham on the beach. In 'Red Dragon', the heinous crimes and retirement status of Graham are explicitly detailed whereas 'Manhunter' is more elliptical in the dialogue and more moody in the bleak tone ala a David Mamet screenplay. Before he reigned in 'CSI', Petersen starred in two of the most pulse-pounding movies of the 80's, 'Manhunter' and 'To Live and Die in L.A.'. Petersen is the tenacious moral compass who must venture into the brooding recesses of his psyche to entrap his prey. For example, he bellows at the Leeds' home videos as if he was Dolarhyde's accomplice. The verbal byplay between Graham and Lecter is almost verbatim, but 'Manhunter' really exploits the sociopathic symbiosis further such as when Graham races out of the prison hyperventilating when Lecter exhorts that "they are very much alike". Michael Mann bathes the terrifically meditative 'Mahunter' in lustrous, nocturnal fluorescence and he burrows deep within the vicarious, pathological rush of investigators who must tap into their demons for civic duty.

Cory Taylor
Cory Taylor

Super Reviewer


William Petersen carries the film with a brave and ambivalent portrayal of a disturbed detective obsessed with the psychopath he must catch . Mann's atmospheric storytelling helps to feel the heat, anguish and horror in the minds of the duellists. The sinister Tom Noonan is the counterpart of the deadly game,

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

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