Review by Adam Donato
From the director of the 2015 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year comes To Catch a Killer. Damian Szifron has been quiet for the best decade outside of a television special, Stories that may Happen. Wild Tales was an Argentinian film, but To Catch a Killer is an American film through-and-through. Shailene Woodley plays a rundown police officer who teams up with Ben Mendelsohn’s FBI chief investigator to catch a crazy criminal. This crime thriller has talent in front of and behind the camera, but is it good enough to garner people’s attention?
Almost a decade after tweenybopper movies like The Fault in our Stars and Divergent, Woodley has made more artistic acting choices. She saw the most success by getting nominated for a Primetime Emmy for her role in Big Little Lies. Her performance in To Catch a Killer is more mature and refreshing compared to everything we’ve seen from her previously on the big screen. She’s been jerked around and now she’s not going to take shit from anybody. When the story gives her big opportunities, Woodley takes advantage and carries the movie. Hopefully this can become a trend in her career as she’s definitely got what it takes to be a leading lady.
Mendelsohn has a catalog of solid dramatic performances and this movie is a fitting addition. He’s usually the villain in his more blockbuster fare thanks to his standout performance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. There’s still that intestinal in this performance as his character and Woodley’s struggle to work together. While Woodley’s dramatic flash raises the ceiling for this dramatic thriller, Mendelsohn maintains a high floor as his fans know he’s going to bring it no matter what. While he may not be straight as an arrow here, it’s nice to see him playing for the good guys in this one.
This story is filled with violence and doesn’t shy away from the reality of it. There’s intrigue throughout until it reaches its satisfying conclusion. Ralph Ineson, of The Witch fame, plays the terrorist on the loose and shines when given the opportunity. Gritty and full of stakes, this crime thriller is sure to have fans of the genre glued till the end.
Szifron deserves ample credit for directing two unlikely costars and gets the most out of them. To Catch A Killer justifies its two hour run time and is worthy of being checked out, whether that be on demand, streaming, or even a theatrical release. In the wake of the recent onslaught of franchise sequels, it’s refreshing to see an original movie like this.
To Catch a Killer hits theaters on April 21.