Posted May 20 2018

Hangman - This Movie Does Not Rock

Dir: Johnny Martin

Starring Al Pacino, Karl Urban, Brittany Snow

The latter day Pacino movie now falls into roughly two camps. There are the generally critically well-received true life dramas he makes for HBO, often for Barry Levinson, Patterno being the most recent. And on the big screen, there are a series of increasingly low budget, unrewarding paycheque movies, lately including the likes of Danny Collins, Humbling and now Hangman, which is by no means one of the man’s more sterling efforts.

Pacino is a retired cop, dragged back when a serial killer emerges who likes to hang his victims whilst concurrently playing the children’s game of hangman, in order to rile both Pacino and his old partner Urban. Oh, and there’s a young blonde reporter (Snow) who seems to have been granted unprecedented access to every police scene – ever!

And everyone comes complete with buckets of backstory and exposition, which director Martin attempts to drip feed – with a sledgehammer. Thus we learn that Pacino does crosswords in Latin (surely something that will crop up again later??), Urban’s wife was murdered but he doesn’t want to talk about it (he will!) and Snow is a crusading NYTimes reporter who like to mention her Pulitzer nomination (for credibility), and eventually breaks down and reveals why she wants to write about the police force in a teary moment of confession so bad it could well manage to end the actress’ career stone dead.

Along the way, our intrepid threesome make tangential leaps from the killer’s left behind clues that stagger the imagination – yet never once stop to try and figure out what the word he is spelling out in hangman actually is. Surely the biggest clue of all.

Despite his background in stunt work, director Martin displays no feeling for action, staging a series of chase sequences that never rise above pedestrian, as his cast struggle with some of the clumsiest dialogue they have undoubtedly ever had to utter.

Yet throughout all this, Pacino remains as watchable as ever. His laid back delivery (which admittedly here could be disinterest, but, if it is, he hides it well) is as compulsive as ever. Even in the worst of situations, Pacino is a joy to behold.

Now, back to HBO sir. Oh, and that Scorsese thing.

Hangman is released on digital download from June 4


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