Movie review of “Manhattan Night”: This noir thriller is full of portentous voice-overs in which the cynical hero (played by Adrien Brody) explains everything that’s going on and telegraphs the movie’s every punch. Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.
Down mean streets, muttering in a manner writer-director Brian DeCubellis apparently perceives to be perfect Raymond Chandleresque patois, goes Porter Wren (Adrien Brody), flawed protagonist of “Manhattan Night.”
In the land of noir we are, where the streets are dark and wet, corruption and danger lurk around every corner and characters are scheming and/or cynical.
It’s all here: a shamus sniffing around a mysterious murder, a blond beauty harboring hidden secrets, a perverse scoundrel who comes to a well-deserved bad end.
Movie Review ★½
‘Manhattan Night,’ with Adrien Brody, Yvonne Strahovski, Campbell Scott, Jennifer Beals. Written and directed by Brian DeCubellis. 113 minutes. Rated R for sexual content, nudity, violence and language. Varsity.
Based on Colin Harrison’s 1996 crime novel “Manhattan Nocturne,” DeCubellis’ adaptation is a self-conscious simulacrum of a noir thriller (glossily mounted, to be sure), full of portentous voice-overs in which Wren, speaking in a growly rasp, explains everything that’s going on and telegraphs the movie’s every punch. The result? A thriller wholly lacking in surprises, or thrills.
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When he talks about how his home in a hidden Manhattan nook is a fortress of safety for his precious family, it’s like a klaxon sounding in the night: Aaaoogah! No, it’s not.
Wren is the shamus in this scenario, though he’s not actually a detective but rather a newspaper columnist in love with his pose of world weariness. His beat is crime and his forte is hard-luck tales of people done dirty by the cruelties of life in the big city. He fancies himself a seen-it-all cynic, but when the glamorous vamp in white, Caroline Crowley (Yvonne Strahovski), catches his eye and pleads with him to solve the mystery surrounding the untimely demise of her egomaniacal rotter of a husband Simon (Campbell Scott), Wren becomes reluctant putty in the glamour girl’s hands.
He’s married to a beautiful surgeon (Jennifer Beals) with two young kids he adores, but well, the flesh is weak. When DeCubellis puts him in proximity to the femme fatale, the inevitable happens.
And yes, we can see that coming from a mile off. We can see everything that “Manhattan Night” has in store from a mile off. Every step of the way it’s predictable. And that predictability makes it tedious.