From the very start of writer-director David Raymond’s psychological crime thriller “Night Hunter” you feel like you’re in familiar territory. From the opening scene until the end of its cookie-cutter mystery, there’s nothing about the movie that comes across as original. Yet still this by-the-book thriller manages to be moderately entertaining and disappointing at the same time.
Henry Cavill leads a cast plump with recognizable names. He plays the growling, scowling Walter Marshall, a detective with the Minneapolis police force. After the body of a young women is discovered Marshall deduces she was in fact fleeing a captor. The case goes cold until the police cross paths with a vigilante former judge named Michael Cooper (Ben Kingsley) and his potty-mouthed teenage partner Lara (Eliana Jones). These two lure in sexual predators and then quite literally…fix them. I’m not making this up.
The lone slice of uniqueness comes when the girl’s killer is apprehended early into the movie. He turns out to be a schizophrenic serial rapist who goes by the name of Simon (played by scene-munching Brendan Fletcher). There’s an internal tension about how they should approach Simon. A rookie psychological profiler (Alexandra Daddario) believes they need to be patient and get into his head. Walter believes Simon is faking and stringing them along as part of his game. There’s enough there for an interesting internal storyline but unfortunately it doesn’t go very far.
Needless to say we do get a big twist/reveal which is as ridiculous as it is predictable. It steers the movie in a weird direction where we watch it borrow from even more serial killer thrillers that came before it. Still, there would have been enough within the story’s concept to be entertaining if the characters were the slightest bit interesting.
Cavill leads the way and all he is asked to do is brood and be as dour as possible. Daddario is given one lone scene to show some independent thought (and it’s really bizarre). Otherwise she’s stuck as a tag-along character void of any real agency. Oh, we also get Stanley Tucci and Nathan Fillion but neither are given anything to do.
The film’s icy setting and intriguing cast work in its favor but that’s about it. It has an interesting idea which it toys with but never explores. Instead “Night Hunter” embraces things other movies have done better making it come across as unoriginal and predictable. It’s such a shame and an unfortunate waste of some pretty good potential.
VERDICT – 2 STARS