Red Dragon (2002)
USA / English
"Meet Hannibal Lecter For The First Time "A retired FBI agent with psychological gifts is assigned to help track down "The Tooth Fairy", a mysterious serial killer; aiding him is imprisoned criminal genius Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter.
Another great film that slipped under the radar of most
This was a fantastic film, but it slipped under many people's radar for
1) The critics said (and rightly so) that it is not as good as the
Silence of the Lambs. However, I find it difficult to compare the
films, largely because Will Graham (Norton) is completely different to
Clarice Starling (Foster). The different dimension they bring to the
investigation is enough, by itself, to distinguish them beyond
2) This was the third film in the series. The problem with the
Hollywood pumping out an absurd number of sequels and prequels (even
when the original film was terrible to begin with) is that it alters
the public's attitude towards them. People are usually happy to see the
"part 2" but beyond that, you're usually down to loyalists. In fact,
this situation has been made worse due to the fact that many of the
sequels made are shockingly bad (eg, the American Pie sequels, the
Highlander sequels). Some are so terrible that they can actually
tarnish the memory of the original (eg... Matrix Revolutions). So a
third Hannibal film was always going to be an uphill battle.
3) This followed an awful sequel: Hannibal. People who thought Hannibal
was terrible (and there's no shortage of them) are likely to turn their
nose up at any further sequels or prequels. That's what Hollywood
always overlooks - once you pump out one bad sequel (eg, Ocean's Twelve
2004), fewer people will even consider seeing the next sequel, unless
it receives almost unanimous critical acclaim.
I did not like Hannibal either and I think that many stars in Hollywood
would have turned it down after reading the script. Jodie Foster, with
the offer of reprising her academy awarding winning role, and Jon Demme
(director of Silence of the lambs) walked away from the Hannibal after
disagreements with author (Harris) over the character directions.
Hopkins nearly left when Foster and Demme walked, but was persuaded to
stay (probably with a nice salary increase!). In any case, key elements
were gone and in my view, they ultimately failed to attract a strong
By contrast, I think many actors would have been falling over
themselves to land one of the roles in Red Dragon after reading the
script. Accordingly, we ended up with Hopkins (reprising his academy
award winning role to absolute perfection), Norton (who is the rightful
winner of the academy award for American History X in my view, even
though the academy went to someone else that year), Harvey Keitel,
Ralph Finnes and the brilliant, but under-rated, Phillip Seymore
Hoffman. They combine to breath tremendous life into this
investigative/thriller. And the opening 5 minutes is magnificent.
However, I have two criticisms that cost it a star. First, it wasn't
quite dark enough. Perhaps that masterpiece, the Silence of the Lambs,
used up all the visceral attributes that were so pathetically contrived
in Hannibal and present, but not powerfully present, in Red Dragon.
There certainly was a dark edge, but it just didn't get under my skin
the way Silence of the Lambs did (if you'll forgive the pun).
Second, I felt that there were a few off-shoots to the main plot that
could have been worked around or seemed to play no real role in the
film whatsoever. For example, the tense relationship between Norton and
the reporter (Hoffman), Finnes taking the blind girl to listen to the
sedated tiger (or lion or whatever it was), Norton teaching his wife to
shoot ... and many others. Most of the time, I felt that they should
have been left on the cutting room floor as they were of little
interest, had little (if any) role in the context of the story and
accordingly, unnecessarily bulked out the running time of the film.
Otherwise, terrific viewing. Don't be dissuaded by Hannibal - this
sequel achieves where that one so dismally failed.
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