September 9, 2019  (Web Review)

Manhunt

RLJ, 145 min., not rated, DVD: $34.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

This low-key British police procedural, based on an actual case that occurred between 2004 and 2006, stars Martin Clunes as Inspector Colin Sutton, who is assigned to lead his first major investigation—involving the murder of a French student visiting London. The script, based on Sutton’s titular 2019 memoir, follows the inquiry methodically as Sutton’s large team tentatively connects the crime to a 2003 killing in the same area, finds the victim’s missing phone, and studies CCTV footage to identify vehicles in the area at the time of both deaths. Sutton also links the murder to that of a young girl in Surrey in 2002, and is irritated when police authorities there prefer to continue their investigation independently. Eventually, Sutton identifies a violent man implicated in another attempted murder and initiates continuous surveillance while simultaneously interrogating the suspect’s associates. Ultimately an arrest is made, but the team has only 72 hours to collect sufficient evidence for legal charges to be filed. Along the way, they discover a mistake in processing evidence in one of the earlier killings that, if properly handled, might have prevented a student’s death. At times the restrained approach of the miniseries—reflected in Clunes’s performance—can seem unduly understated, but cumulatively it builds considerable tension, and Manhunt certainly avoids the simplistic feel of so many television police dramas, whether fact-based or fictional. Compiling all three episodes from 2019, extras include interviews with Clunes and his wife and producer Philippa Braithwaite. Recommended. (F. Swietek)