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Opinions Never Caught Anyone

To Catch a Killer

Director: Damian Szifron

Cast: Shailene Woodley , Ben Mendelsohn, Ralph Ineson, Jovan Adepo, Jason Cavalier, Rosemary Dunsmore, Mark Camacho

Running Time: 1 hour and 59 minutes

Film Rating: 7 out of 10



Argentinian Oscar winning director of Wild Tales, Damian Szifron directs his first English Language film: a murky and bloody detective story, To Catch a Killer starring Golden Globe nominee Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, Big Little Lies) as a rookie cop Eleanor Falco in Baltimore, Maryland who teams up with veteran FBI investigator Lamar, brilliantly played with a maverick style flair by Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, The Dark Knight Rises).

The pair team up with an arsonist investigator Mackenzie played by Babylon star Jovan Adepo when a lone marksman shoots 29 people dead in various Baltimore skyscrapers on New Year’s Eve.

The Trio upon increasing pressure from the FBI and city authorities are racing against time to find the perpetrator before another massacre occurs. That happens very soon in a city shopping mall, whereby the suspected killer is cornered in a food court and resorts to extreme violence to escape.

To Catch a Killer is a relevant film to watch at the time when America is experiencing its worse wave of gun violence in US history, with mass killings happening on a weekly basis in almost every state of the country. This film asks relevant questions. Why should individuals with severe mental illness or disabilities be allowed to carry heavy guns and deadly rifles? Why aren’t the laws in America strict enough? It’s a complex issue for a country of that size whereby the gun laws differ from state to state.

As a film, Szifron keeps the cinematic palette dark and saturated with murky colours adding a sombre ambience to a film about death and mass killings. Fortunately both Shailene Woodley and Ben Mendelsohn are talented actors to keep this distressing detective film engaging and thrilling. The best scenes in the film are between the two main leads.

Woodley is superb as the recovering drug addict turned investigator and Mendelsohn is excellent as the flamboyant lead detective on a prolific case which ultimately consumes his personal and professional life.

To Catch a Killer has enough plot twists to keep audiences guessing and when the killer is finally revealed, his blandness and ordinary status as an ex-abattoir worker makes his final confession even more chilling and psychopathic. In this case, the banality of evil is done for its own sake without any moral justification or redemption.

This film highlights the epidemic of gun violence currently sweeping America, the role that the media plays in this and the devastating personal cost which happens to the victims who are senselessly murdered and to the survivors that are traumatically left behind.

As Lamar says to Eleanor at the film’s beginning, “Opinions never caught anyone, but good detective works does”.

To Catch a Killer is an exciting but bleak look at gun violence, microscopic detective work and the toll that mass killings takes on a society. The film gets a rating of 7 out of 10 and will appeal to audiences that enjoy a gritty American detective story.

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