Customer Review

29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The silence has broken....Red Dragon is back......, 17 Mar 2003
This review is from: Red Dragon - 2 disc edition [2002] [DVD] (DVD)
... Since The Silence of the Lambs was so great with 5 oscars, and its sequel Hannibal was not as good, I approached the latest film in the Hannibal Lecter series, Red Dragon, with some degree of trepidation. The cast had me very excited (Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, and Ralph Fiennes in the same movie!), but the after taste of Hannibal left in my mouth nothing was certain. Then when I learned who was directing (Brett Ratner) I became even more skeptical. Thankfully, my fears were assuaged by a film that was stylishly directed and perfectly acted from start to finish.
Hopkins of course reprises his role as Hannibal Lecter, the cannibal villain we all hate to love. As the film opens, he is a free man, and enjoying a life of sophistication, attending orchestral performances and hosting lavish dinner parties (just guess what he serves?). Norton plays FBI agent Will Graham, who is tracking a series of vicious murders, and goes to Dr. Lecter for help throughout the investigation. It is clear to the audience that Lecter is guilty of these crimes, and Graham has yet to figure it out. He soon does, however, and Graham is able to corral Lecter, sending him to the maximum security prison we first saw him in eleven years ago in The Silence of the Lambs. Graham, completely drained from the entire ordeal, quits the bureau and moves to Florida to fix boat motors and raise a family with his beautiful wife (Mary Louise Parker).
This is when the main part of the story line kicks in, and another cause of my worry. A killer is on the loose, who goes by the name of the "Tooth Fairy." Graham's old boss, Jack Crawford (the always great Harvey Keitel) is having trouble with the case, so he persuades Graham to come back and work on this case, on a limited, not-directly-involved manner. Graham reluctantly agrees, and goes to work on the case. Of course, Graham cannot solve it on his own either, so he enlists the help of his old friend Dr. Lecter. This is where much of the film's strength comes from: the bizarre, yet mutually respecting relationship between Lecter and Graham. Sounds good enough, but the problem I saw before actually seeing the movie is that this is the exact same plot as The Silence of the Lambs. Astonishingly, Dragon never feels ripped off, but thoroughly original. And even if it was ripped off, both novels were written by Thomas Harris, so he has the right to rip himself off if he wants. But Dragon is able to exist on its own merits, not merely as a Lambs rip off.
Its merits certainly extend far into the movie. The acting comes from some of the best actors in the world. Hopkins and Norton absolutely electrify the screen with a sizzling chemistry on par with the Hopkins/Jodie Foster relationship from Lambs. Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient) is equal parts creepy and sympathetic as the villainous Francis Dolarhyde, the man who believes he is the Red Dragon. He has several wonderful scenes with a blind girl, Reba McClane (played beautifully by the talented Emily Watson) that allow the audience to feel a certain amount of sympathy for a man who brutally murders families. Keitel is the right man to play the Graham's gruff boss, in a part that is minor but still required a good actor to fill. The very versatile Philip Seymour Hoffman is perfect as the sleazy reporter Freddy Lounds, whom Graham and Crawford use as a pawn in their game against The Tooth Fairy, to shocking results.
Technically, the film is as sound as any that has come out this year. The screenplay by Ted Tally (who also penned Lambs) is taut. Cinematographer (and two-time Oscar nominee for L.A. Confidential and The Insider Dante Spinotti creates a rich and foreboding atmosphere. The score by Danny Elfman (himself twice nominated for Good Will Hunting and Men in Black) is the perfect accompaniment for the terror on screen. And most importantly, Ratner directs the film with style, a big step up from Ridley Scott's heavy-handed Hannibal.
But the film of course exists and succeeds because of Anthony Hopkins. Any actor who can take one of the most monstrous characters ever created, but he is beloved by all. Why? Because Hopkins plays the role with such wit and poise that he is impossible not to like.
As i look back on this movie i say to my self, yes this will be one day a classic with the past films.
But will it stop there who knows.... To be honest I would greatfully wish of an other film to be brought out to the fans of DR LECTER.
Has the silence broken? not yet i don't think.
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