profiler Will Graham is lured out of retirement to help catch
a serial killer nicknamed "the Tooth Fairy". Graham soon realises
that he will need advice from the brilliant but insane Dr
Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter, a murderer who Graham himself
brought to justice...
case you didn't already know, Red Dragon, Thomas Harris'
first Hannibal Lecter novel, has already been filmed - as
Michael Mann's Manhunter. Still, it's nice to have
a complete set of movies starring Anthony Hopkins as Dr Lecter.
cannibal's role in the original book was the smallest of the
three, but Brett Ratner and screenwriter Ted Tally have made
optimum use of their star attraction. They have added a neat
prologue, in which Will Graham (Edward Norton) captures Lecter,
and a final scene that leads directly into The Silence
of the Lambs. Hopkins, of course, appears noticeably older
than he did in Lambs, but this is unavoidable (barring
extensive computer enhancement). What certainly could have
been avoided, though, are some of Hopkins' more camp moments
of almost pantomime villainy, which are more akin to his portrayal
in Hannibal than his quieter, more sinister playing
in Lambs. For the most part, however, Dr Lecter is
as chilling as he ever was.
his antagonist and uneasy ally Will Graham, Edward Norton
gives a well-judged performance, gaining our sympathies as
an all-round decent guy who faces up to his darkest fears
in order to do the right thing.
Tom Noonan was a hard act to follow in terms of terror, but
Ralph Fiennes manages to bring new depths to the character
of Francis Dolarhyde aka the Tooth Fairy. There are some very
poignant moments with Dolarhyde struggling against his insanity
when he benefits from the caring affections of blind woman
Reba McClane (another excellent performance by Emily Watson).
The lingering influence of Dolarhyde's deceased grandmother
is, however, a bit too reminiscent of Norman Bates' mum!
Ratner has captured the grim tone, though perhaps not all
of the style, of Jonathan Demme's seminal Silence of the
Lambs. He vividly re-creates the staging of those famous
"glass cage" confrontation scenes. As in many of the best
horror flicks, most of the violence is kept off-screen and
firmly in the viewer's imagination. The sequence in which
Will Graham visits the bloodstained bedrooms of a crime scene
is far more unnerving than an in-your-face depiction of the
crime itself would have been.
is a faithful adaptation and, despite the handicap of being
both a prequel and a remake - both of which can defeat mystery
and suspense - a dramatic piece of storytelling in its own
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