Anthony Hopkins returns as Hannibal Lecter in Red Dragon
, a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs
and a remake of 1986's Manhunter
, Michael Mann's fine film of Thomas Harris's terrific book
, in which Brian Cox carved the ham thinner as a more menacing, less hokey cannibal.
This film beefs up Lecter's role, opening with a prologue that finds him annoyed by a sour note in his favourite symphony orchestra and then serving the offending flautist at a dinner party before FBI profiler Will Graham (Edward Norton) drops by to apprehend him. Then, we pick up with Lecter in his asylum cell and Graham retired with trauma, only to be brought back together by the crimes of a new madman, the Tooth Fairy. Graham consults Lecter on the case, which means some pointed and familiar conversations, and the film shifts focus from the investigation to the life and troubles of the mad and murderous but also abused and sympathetic Francis Dolarhyde (Ralph Fiennes, with a major tattoo and a harelip).
Director Brett Ratner is more like a job-of-work man than the geniuses who have made the earlier movies, and he doesn't quite restrain Hopkins enough. It's also hard not to compare the current cast with Mann's excellent players. Still, Red Dragon is a solid film of great material, with all the sudden shocks and disturbing whispers in places. Also with Harvey Keitel as the FBI boss, Emily Watson as Dolarhyde's blind love interest, Philip Seymour Hoffman as a tabloid sleaze and Mary-Louise Parker in the thankless role of imperilled wife. --Kim Newman
Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) returns in his third film outing (based on the first Thomas Harris novel which introduced the character). FBI agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) has retired with his family to Florida after a near-death experience when he tracked down and captured Lecter. However, when a new serial killer, 'the tooth fairy' who kills whole families, is discovered, Graham finds himself back on the force and asking for Lecter's help. But the tooth fairy has been writing to Lecter and Lecter cannot resist playing each side off each other, to such an extent that Graham's family are to be the next victims.