Henry Cavill, Stanley Tucci and Ben Kingsley lead the cast of Night Hunter – but don’t get too excited.
A grizzled cop succeeds in catching a serial killer who’s been hiding in the shadows for years but, once incarcerated, a game of cat and mouse filled with disturbing clues and revelations still ensues, as the smug murderer continues to pull all the strings from the comfort of his cell. Sound familiar? It’s certainly vintage stuff, and it feels like a template that would be hard to get wrong. And yet Night Hunter, sadly, manages to do just that.
Henry Cavill plays Lieutenant Aaron Marshall here, the grizzled cop in question, whose young daughter keeps him from descending into a full spiral of depression brought on by years of hauling in the worst of the worst. In the midst of investigating a possible kidnapping gone wrong, Marshall gets entangled with Ben Kingsley’s Michael Cooper, an ex-judge who now makes a living out of entrapping child predators and castrating them. This pastime is certainly violating about twelve different laws, but Cooper won’t face a day of jail time, because he’s about to help Marshall uncover a long history of local horrors that appear to be quite quickly wrapped up with a neat bow.
Unsurprisingly, as all this takes place early on in the film, they are not. Indeed, perhaps the most surprising thing about Night Hunter is not found amongst its twists and turns – all distinctly borrowed from other, better thrillers of this ilk – but in its cast. This is a pretty solid ensemble of talent after all, led by no less than the former Superman and current Geralt of Rivia, and filled out with the likes of Kingsley, Stanley Tucci and Nathan Fillion. You’d expect their performances to help the movie stand out a little, but the screenplay they’ve been given only blesses the characters with slivers of throwaway background. Even the best actors in the world would struggle to make something of that, and in Night Hunter there’s so much laughably unbelievable stuff going on at the forefront of the plot that each member of the cast gets immediately lost in it as soon as they’re introduced anyway (most notably Nathan Fillion, who gets all of maybe ten entirely irrelevant words to say during the film’s 94-minute runtime).
Sadly, what we’re left with is a confusing mish-mash of worn tropes and wasted talent that even a long-running TV cop drama would struggle with.
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