A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating:Rated R for Adult Situations, language and violence
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton and Ralph Fiennes
Directed By:Brett Ratner
Edward Norton plays Will Graham, the young investigator, who put the famed Hannibal “the cannibal” Lecter into imprisonment. Years later we find Will a broken man, no longer an investigator but instead lives with his wife and son in Florida, spending his day repairing boat motors. (Reviewer’s Note: Why do all broken men recover by repairing boats???) But the FBI needs his help once more, this time to catch “The Red Dragon killer,” a man who has already killed 2 families. Graham unwillingly finds himself involved after taking a mere look at the evidence, and soon the lead investigator of the case. But when the case can not be cracked, Graham has to work with the one man who has a killer insight: Lecter himself. Only the two of them have the vision and the ability to track the Red Dragon Killer and catch him before he strikes again…
Why would Hollywood bring out a film like Red Dragon when it is a remake of a film (Manhunter) done only a few years earlier in 1986? Many people claim that it is to let Anthony Hopkins, who will forever be coined as Hannibal Lecter, play out the “final role” in the Hannibal Lecter Trilogy making Hopkins the star in all 3 of them. (In Manhunter Lecter was played by Brian Cox) Unfortunately those people are missing the point slightly. The more probable real reason is right in front of their nose, but they don’t want to admit it. Hollywood loves money, especially easy money. Silence of the Lambs was a hit when it hit the box office, and Hannibal, even though it was not a grade A film did amazingly well on the big screen. But despite Hannibal being nothing more than a hyped “crap film,” Lecter drew a crowd. Those dollar signs led someone to the idea of remaking Manhunter so they did…The result Red Dragon Red Dragon, based on the Thomas Harris novel of the same name, loses some of Harris’ integrity on the big screen. This is just because some things are better explained in a book, than they can be portrayed on the silver screen. In the film our Characters lack depth, which is essential. Lecter is now a household name, so Hopkins really doesn’t need to try, as long as he speaks in axioms the crowds love him. Our other main character, agent Will Graham played by Hollywood hero Edward Norton (Fight Club), tries to pick up the FBI agent role that was played so well by Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs. I’ve always been an Edward Norton fan, so making complaints about his characters is hard, but in this one he just didn’t cut it. Norton is an actor I expect to take his role to the next level, he just didn’t do that in this film. Norton simply played the role but that’s it. In fact, for a role where he was so “fear driven” he didn’t seem that way, especially around Lecter. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t act like working with Lecter is a happy walk in the park, especially if he had tried to kill me in my previous encounters with him.
Our other character is our killer Francis Dollarhyde, played by Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient.) Through the film, Fiennes proves himself not only as a the right man cast for the killer, but as an actor as well. He has talent, and given the right roles, he has the potential to become someone. However, the opposite could happen and we will be left with an actor who will become the next Dolph Lungren of this decade.
Red Dragon is directed by Brett Ratner. Ratner the man who brought us High quality flicks such as Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2 comes out looking a lot better than he probably deserves after this film. Ratner’s approach takes us back to the Silence of the Lambs fear approach, relying more on suspense rather than the gore of Hannibal. Unfortunately, Ratner’s approach gives us more of the Glass House suspense than the Silence of the Lambs suspense. Red Dragon seemed to have more “cheese” to it than the other films in the Lecter series. If I wanted Ratner’s cheese, I would rent the two Rush Hour films. I really don’t feel Ratner totally pulled it off. Sure, it was a good film but the cookie cutter characters, the recycled plot and the overall Hollywood feel are things I can’t blame Ratner totally for, but hey I think I will anyway. He should know better! (I hope)
Red Dragon beats out Hannibal hands down. I felt Red Dragon gave the Hannibal fans what they wanted in Hannibal but didn’t get. Sure, this film has its flaws but they can be easily overlooked. If you are a fan of the Anthony Hopkins version of Lecter go check it out, but if you want the better film, I’d choose Manhunter. As much as I’d like to think this is the last in the Lecter series, It wouldn’t surprise me if this isn’t the last time we see Hopkins play the famed cannibalistic visionary on the big screen. If Ratner can make Rush Hour 2 and they can make movies like Analyze That, then I’m pretty sure some director will try his hand at another Lecter film, whether we want it or not…
The final verdict, it’s worth the cash, especially if you love Lecter, but were disappointed with Hannibal…