Night Hunter – Nomis (2018)
Directed by: David Raymond | 98 minutes | action, thriller | Actors: Henry Cavill, Alexandra Daddario, Ben Kingsley, Brendan Fletcher, Eliana Jones, Minka Kelly, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, Sara Thompson, Emma Tremblay, Carlyn Burchell, Mpho Koaho, Daniela Lavender, Kristen Harris, Jason Tremblay, Stephanie Sy, Lauren Cochrane, Annika Elyse Irving, Luke Milligan, Beverly Ndukwu, Darren Ross
A former judge who, together with a graceful young assistant, wants to restore the balance by castrating sexual offenders… that sounds like a nice starting point for a sensational revenge film, doesn’t it? Regretsing letting so many felons go, retired Cooper (Ben Kingsley) is on a veritable crusade (no pun intended). He does this in ‘Night Hunter’ (original title ‘Nomis’, which makes much more sense, but which cannot be explained without giving away an important plot twist). ‘Night Hunter’ is the feature film directing debut of David Raymond, who also wrote the screenplay. Unfortunately, this isn’t the main point of this action thriller.
‘Night Hunter’ revolves around cop Marshall (Henry Cavill, very likeable in this role). When a young woman’s body is discovered in snowy Minnesota on a log trailer, he quickly realizes that she didn’t just jump off the bridge under which this truck was driving. No, she was clearly on the run. His detective skills soon lead him to an abandoned house. Below the house is a dingy cellar, decorated with Christmas lights. A fake radio spews out happy tunes and oh yes, there are a number of cubicles where kidnapped young women are. The alleged kidnapper walks around giggling in his underwear.
Once at the police station, this Simon (Brendan Fletcher) is subjected to an in-depth psychological examination by talented young profiler Rachel (Alexandra Daddario). She must defend her position against the hardened boss (Stanley Tucci). She is convinced that Simon has multiple personalities. This childlike soul can never be the horrific perpetrator. Meanwhile, Marshall struggles with his growing teenage daughter (he’s divorced). And Cooper comes to Marshall’s aid when his young assistant is also kidnapped. What should have been an exciting manhunt for the real perpetrator, ends in a chaotic messy whole.
Raymond clearly has good ideas, although his film mostly feels like a collage of everyone’s favorite crime thrillers. That actually makes sense, because with a subject like serial killers (or serial rapists) you quickly think of ‘Se7en’ or ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. It’s just such a shame that this filmmaker doesn’t know how to dose his ideas well. ‘Night Hunter’ is so packed that not a single element really comes into its own. Complications are piled upon complications, without increasing the tension. In addition, the installation was definitely not done properly. On paper, the story might be easy to follow, but if you watch the film, it’s mostly a mess. Characters are staged and disappear from the battlefield with no impact (we’re crying for you, Nathan Fillion!) and still others go through sudden, illogical character development. Scenes seem to be missing; and sometimes we see fragments that make you wonder where and in what time this takes place. Is it a flashback? What’s the point of this?
And that is the key question with this film: what is the use of it? ‘Night Hunter’ will not leave a lasting impression on anyone. At times this film is entertaining, but at least there is a much better thriller hidden in the material than the final product actually is.