Night Hunter ½

It has been almost a year since Night Hunter (or Nomis, as it was previously titled) premiered at the 2018 Los Angeles Film Festival. The reason for its delay in release till the present is unclear, but there is the question of whether the film was worth the wait or not. Yet, retitling the film with an arguably punchier name in the hopes that it might entice audiences does not change the inadequate final result.

Night HunterNight Hunter follows the police investigation of a sexual predator who has groomed girls for several years. The film takes a conventional approach to a crime drama. There are interrogation scenes mixed with moments of action and an added personal story for protagonist Aaron Marshall (Henry Cavill), the leading police officer on the case. Amongst all this, Michael Cooper (Ben Kingsley), a retired judge, and his adopted daughter Lara (Eliana Jones) have no faith in the law and resort to hunting down and torturing sexual offenders. The film comes across as a television series unsuccessfully condensed into a feature. There is an overuse of high-tech gadgets like drones and computers complete with needlessly unoriginal beeping sound effects. The score is also intrusive and barely ever stops trying to force the mood of every scene.

Night Hunter‘s main problem, however, is its plot. Writer/director David Raymond‘s unrefined script results in a straightforward story becoming convoluted, and the narrative also lacks depth. Dialogue and action are often cliché and contrived, with the plot often being told rather than shown.

The script also hinders the actors’ performances. Cavill’s character is greatly stereotypical. He is evasive and lives in an apartment of packed boxes, having split from his wife over a year ago. Ben Kingsley gives the best performance from the cast and also has the best scene of the entire film, but even he gets let down by the writing at times. I question why talents like Kingsley and Stanley Tucci would even sign up for this film.

Not only is the script substandard but so is the film editing. Rapidly cut scene transitions further alienate the audience, making it difficult to engage with the action. It makes the film feel more disjointed along with the series of events that play out.

Any overarching message Night Hunter tries to make is unclear because of its puzzling plot and structural presentation, and it fails even as a piece of entertainment. There is no consideration given to character development, so the audience does not care about any of its various characters. Audiences have likely seen similar stories on-screen, but David Raymond’s take on it is uninspiring. Night Hunter is hardly worth watching as there are better crime dramas out there, and hardly any that are worse.

Ian began working in film as one of the founding members of the Rochester Film Society, where he led the programming for films and curated screenings. Since moving into film criticism and writing for Cineccentric, he has provided coverage for various film festivals including London, Glasgow and the BFI Flare Film Festival. He is also the Communications Manager for the North East International Film Festival, where he helps acquire films. Ian particularly admires works from contemporary directors like Céline Sciamma, David Fincher, Steve McQueen and Nicolas Winding Refn.

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