The trick to getting most any script turned into a feature film is finding “names” who are interested in doing it.
But here’s a tip. If you’ve lined up Oscar winner Al Pacino, somehow, to make your movie, maybe re-write the thing so that he’s got better lines than this.
“So what are you SAYING to me?”
That is the laziest way of underlining a plot point, script-splaining for the slower members of the audience, having a character reiterate a patently-obvious point by restating it for the guy who just asked that question.
“Hangman” has Pacino’s character drawl versions of that line repeatedly. It makes his character the one true southerner (“Hoo HA, you all.”) in a southern city where a serial killer is on the loose. And it relies on coincidence, macabre murders and the presence of serial-killer bait (Brittany Snow) to get by.
Monroe (the film was shot in Atlanta) was the hometown of a New York Times reporter (Snow of “Pitch Perfect”) who has come home to do some sort of ride-along piece with a compliant, widowed detective (Karl Urban).
When Det. Ruiney (Seriously?) steps into crime scenes that start looking like a serial killer’s work — hanging victims, letters carved on their chests, the game “Hangman” scrawled in blood or whatever on the walls (in case the cops are too slow to figure out that’s what he’s playing) — he looks up a retired colleague, Archer, played by Pacino. Who wonders why his old pal is dragging around a member of the “paparazzi.”
“Sir, I was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize!”
Yeah? Who wasn’t?
The three of them pursue the somehow-connected killings all over town, each a sort of Jigsaw-lite booby-trap with elaborate clues that only their not-coincidental relationship to the murders should help them solve.
And at every step, the trio of screenwriters lays everything out so obviously, it’s as if they themselves need these crutches to explain it to the director (Johnny Martin).
“I’m good with numbers,” the reporter reports.
“Still doing crosswords?” Ruiney asks of the aged/ageless Archer. “And in LATIN!”
“Hangman” is ridiculous from the start, when Archer summons “all UNITS” to chase down a van that has sideswiped his bright-gold, classic ’71 Riviera, the PERFECT car to take on a stakeout. But yeah, we understand why he’d want the scofflaw caught.
A weary genre — the police procedural — is lessened by its creation, an exhausted archetype — the “cunning” serial killer — is further dumbed-down by its addition to its ranks.
All because Michael Caissie, Charles Huttiger and (with additional writing by) Phil Hawkins couldn’t think of anything cleverer than a serial killer who plays a game of “Hangman” (IMDB search the title, they’re not the first) and couldn’t cook up, among the three of them, better lines than “So, what’re you TELLING me?”
MPAA Rating: R for violent content, bloody images, and language
Cast: Al Pacino, Brittany Snow, Karl Urban
Credits:Directed by Johnny Martin, script by Michael Caissie, Charles Huttinger and Phil Hawkins . A Saban release.
Running time: 1:38