This movie starts out with a “BANG!” We begin with a New Year’s celebration and for some reason, the way it was all set in motion made me think of the Kathryn Bigelow film “Strange Days.” This being the case, I was expecting a three-minute-long POV shot. However, I was taken by surprise by what came next.
It was a disturbing scene of an accomplished, admirable foe with his rifle on a rooftop, blowing people away with expert precision. He strikes and murders twenty-nine people by shooting them in the head, chest, and neck. The gun he uses leaves a small entry and a substantial exit. All the targets were different genders, ages and races.
On the case is FBI investigator Geoffrey Lammark (Ben Mendelsohn). He sees that a very young police officer named Eleanor Falco (Shailene Woodley) notices more about the shooting than the other experienced officers around her.
He decides she’s going to help him find this killer. He needs someone with eyes like hers who doesn’t just look for and find the OBVIOUS answers to clues. She believes it’s a man looking for relief, like someone at the dinner table. He stops when he’s full, but he’ll get hungry again. Lammark also brings on a man named Mackenzie (Jovan Adepo) who he uses on most cases. He believes with these two great minds working together, the case will be solved in no time.
Mackenzie gives them both information about the ammunition used when he shoots people. It’s old and either dismantled and thrown away or kicked down to cops, so it’s at least used. Eleanor contributes by asking an important question, “Who passes the ammunition down or makes sure they are disposed of?” Lammark says something that stays with these young officers. Everyone blindly follows the same patterns. He’s not. He’s disrupting people’s behaviors but doesn’t revel in the suffering of his victims. This makes them think, who could want to do this but not only not take credit but not live it up when their actions are discussed on the evening news?
They know they have what it takes to find out who this person is and stop him before he kills again, but the politics in the office put pressure on them to answer questions they’re not ready to answer or give a response to reporters who want to know every detail of the slaughter.
Excellent dialogue and the relationship that we see begin to build between Lammark and his female charge make this everyday crime thriller, with today’s politics thrown in for good measure, move ahead of the rest of the crowd.
The way he builds her up makes you trust him. The fact that he has looked into her background to know more about her makes you appreciate him even more.
Sadly, this isn’t the case in the department. Another shooting occurs, with mass casualties and the department feels that they need to get a different team on it, one who can do what they promise rather than just talk a good game. Luckily, they procure some DNA before Lammark is taken off the case. Unable to let it go, Lammark and Falco still discuss the criminal they feel who’ll go free with the new department assignments.
They know the guy is a loner, not a joiner, as the news and other officers suggest. They feel they are the best way to free the city of this maniac. What happens beyond this is as good as any thriller out there. Sure, it has similarities to other films of its ilk, but at this point, I expect that.
I can’t say more, or I’d give too much away, but “To Catch a Killer” is entertaining, the characters are well illustrated. There’s some very well-written dialogue in this clever, engrossing tale. Mendelsohn takes home the prize for best acting. Woodley struggles some, but overall, they do a solid job building the story with their director, Damián Szifron. It’s entertaining and not a remake of “Silence of the Lambs” as some are suggesting.
To Catch a Killer
Directed by: Damián Szifron
Written by: Damián Szifron, Jonathan Wakeham
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ben Mendelsohn, Jovan Adepo
Run Time: 119 minutes
Genres: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Distributed by: Vertical Entertainment