To Catch a Killer

April 21, 202350/1006 min
Shailene Woodley, Ben Mendelsohn, Ralph Ineson, Jovan Adepo
Written by
Damián Szifron and Jonathan Wakeham
Directed by
Damián Szifron
Run Time
1h 59min
Release Date
April 21st, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

               With the popularity of true crime on the rise, it seems like the perfect time to make a good ol’ fashioned police procedural. Movies that come to mind for me that fit this mold are films like Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, and Prisoners, every one of them manages to keep you on the edge of your seat. Tension though is not all you come for, as we also love a good chase and the puzzle solving that comes with them, and when it is done right, it can deliver some of the best movies.

Now comes To Catch a Killer, and with a title like that I think you know what you are in for. On New Year’s eve, amongst the fireworks, shots ring out and in the aftermath lay 29 dead people. During the chaos a beat cop named Eleanor Falco (Shailene Woodley) is having a typical night when the call goes out on the radio. The shooting is done and the cops are trying to put together pieces, all clues lead to one apartment, but before they can get there it explodes. The F.B.I is brought in lead by Lammark (Ben Mendelsohn) and he brings on Eleanor on as a special liaison after noticing her contribution to the case. Together they start the chase, but this killer is elusive and it is going to take everything to catch him. They are not even close when the killer strikes again. The question is: will they find him in time or will he continue to stay several steps ahead of the cops?

Written by Jonathan Wakeham and Damián Szifron, the latter also directing deliver a script that takes a black and white view of its subject matter. It is that approach that leads the story feeling muddled as it has a hard time articulating itself and has to rely on drawn-out monologues to make it clear. To Catch a Killer was in a good position to explore the viewers own misguided examination that take place in criminal profiling, but fails to do so. Instead with no lack of subtlety we hear the typical political arguments that come with a mass shooting, almost acting like a broken compass for the viewer to draw their own conclusion in that regard.

            To Catch a Killer is not all lows, as there are plenty of highs as well. The opening sequence is terrific and the movie looks fantastic with cinematography from Javier Julia. To go with that you have some excellent performances, especially from Woodley and Mendelsohn who you are used to seeing deliver in almost any role. It is all of last mentioned things that keep To Catch a Killer from failing with its weakest link, that being the script, which almost sinks the film to unwatchable depths. With that said you will still be engaged in the inherit drama of the films title, but what may stand out is most is the missteps along the way. And in the end that is what will keep this from being something classic and more like something you’ll catch later on streaming.

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