a critiQal film review Red Dragon (2002)

Plot: After capturing Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter (Hopkins), Special Agent Will Graham (Norton) has taken some time off from the police biz. His captain (Keitel) asks him to look into a new killer, which the tabloids have named the "Tooth Fairy", who has killed two entire families so far. His investigation stumps him, so he turns to the one person he knows can help - Hannibal.

515 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 34s)
  • ...this remake of the prequel to Silence Of The Lambs is decent, if too much of more of the same.

This is the conclusion, er the beginning, of the The Silence of the Lambs (1991) trilogy.

Originally made before The Silence of the Lambs (1991) (and called Manhunter), the popularity of The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and it’s sequel, Hannibal (2001), made the movie gurus in Hollywood decide to redo the film.

So, the beginning film is made last, or at least, last until another sequel pops up, as sequels inevitably do. But, could Red Dragon match up to The Silence of the Lambs (1991) or Hannibal (2001)?

The characters were all portrayed believably. Anthony Hopkins most likely could play Hannibal Lecter in his sleep by this point, and putting him back in familiar surroundings (cell with glass walls) brings back familiarity for the viewer, and makes Anthony’s job that much easier.

There’s no way he could match up to the chilling coldness he brought to The Silence of the Lambs (1991), and he doesn’t even try. This time around, he seems more vindictive, and vengeful.

Edward Norton, a bright star in the acting world these days after his turns in Fight Club, The Score, and Primal Fear, brings his same presence to this film, and shows once again he can keep up quite nicely with the best of them.

Anthony Heald (Dr. Chilton) and Frankie Faison (Barney) also put in another appearance, and are both welcome for their familiarity and continuity to the storyline.

The plot is similar to The Silence of the Lambs (1991). They both concentrate more on Hannibal Lecter in a semi-helpful role, trying to catch a different killer. It worked for The Silence of the Lambs (1991), so why wouldn’t it work for this film, basically is the impression one gets after viewing this film.

There are many similarities between The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Red Dragon, with just enough differences to make Red Dragon not quite an exact copy…but it’s close.

The gore has been toned down a bit from Hannibal (2001), thankfully. Here again, Red Dragon takes it’s cue from The Silence of the Lambs (1991), rather then Hannibal (2001), and tries to keep the suspense with a small amount of gore, whereas Hannibal (2001) turned into an all out gore fest.

There are some interesting sequences, including one person glued to a chair, that were refreshing and innovative. Too many suspense films stick to the tried and true, and turn into cookie cutter films, while this film (with a few notable exceptions) tried to be original (albeit with a lot of reminders of The Silence of the Lambs (1991)).

All in all, not a bad way to wrap up / start the trilogy. It has a nice lead in for The Silence of the Lambs (1991), and tries to go for more of the suspense mode then the over the top gore that Hannibal (2001) turned into.

It’s too bad they couldn’t have tried for something a bit different in Red Dragon, rather then the same Hannibal in a jail cell lending a “helping hand” scenario. It was nice to see a little bit of the history of Hannibal, however, and the film definitely puts Edward Norton in a huge bright light from the beginning, since his character is the one that originally catches Dr. Lecter.

If you liked The Silence of the Lambs (1991), you should be happy with Red Dragon.

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