This deliciously sinister thriller hits all the right notes and despite some of the episodes feeling a little rushed as they draw to their conclusions, Hannibal is a fantastic series. Mads Mikkelsen does an incredible job portraying the cold, ruthless Hannibal and the characters are endearing throughout. The show puts a good spin on the crime genre and it feels like a breath of fresh air in an over bloated genre filled with formulaic clones.
The story follows predominantly two individuals, Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelsen) the calculated, shiver-inducing cannibal with no remorse for his actions and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), his polar opposite. Haunted by actions that occur early in the season which manifest in surprisingly scary ways, Will is a criminal profiler and can “see” the crimes as they happen. Each episode has a different case to deal with but there is an overarching story that tackles one murder in particular to keep the action moving smoothly.
The characters are equally as endearing despite a slight case of overacting at times by Will, the character is incredibly likeable and immediately warming. Mixed into this is Will’s boss at the FBI – Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishbourne). A pushy yet compassionate man in a troubled marriage, his role is played effortlessly despite the complexities of his character and is one of the stand-outs in this show alongside Mikkelsen. Speaking of Hannibal, after watching his character evolve throughout the show, it was never going to be an easy task to try and top Anthony Hopkin’s version but its a close second. Its hard to envision anyone else taking on this role after watching his performance.
The gore and violence have been well documented and some of the scenes are truly disturbing. Some of it is gut-wrenching but its purpose is clearly used to empathise with Will and realize just how horrible his role is to re-enact the gruesome murders. On the same note of the murders, it was a little disappointing to see how quickly some of the murders were solved within the time-frame of one episode. This happens quite frequently throughout and some murderers are captured quicker than anticipated. This might be due to the lack of longevity on the first season (13 episodes in total), with a little too much going on and some cases might work with it spread across a two parter to really get us invested and understand the killer’s motives but it doesn’t detract from the show.
Hannibal is a rare show that somehow feels both familiar and also effortlessly original. The musical score is sublime too with dull strings and piano working in the background for an uneasy, tense feel. Along with great acting and a decent story, all this combines into 2013’s most unique TV show. This clever mind-bending thriller effortlessly delivers and even if dark thrillers aren’t your thing, the acting and story is intriguing. The contrasting viewpoints of Will and Hannibal feels akin to that of Ying and Yang and its fascinating watching how this tale unfolds. If you’re looking for a unique new crime series, make it Hannibal.