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Red Dragon

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton
Director: Brett Ratner
Genre: Thriller
Year: 2002
Rating: 3 / 5

When it was first announced that director Brett Ratner would be bringing Red Dragon, the decades-old Thomas Harris novel, to the big screen, reactions were mixed. After all, many viewed Michael Mann’s 1986 adaptation (Manhunter) as a more-than-adequate take on the novel. Would Ratner, even with Hollywood heavyweights like Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, and Ralph Fiennes, be able to improve on this effort? In addition, after the relative disappointment of Hannibal - despite impressive box office figures – did this series actually warrant another film? Undaunted, Ratner and friends plowed ahead, and the result is a nice thriller, not nearly the level of Silence of the Lambs but still an improvement over Hannibal.

Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) is a brilliant and gifted doctor, one who often helps the FBI – and, specifically, special agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) – track down serial killers. On the trail of a particularly gruesome killer, one who apparently eats his victims, Graham discovers that his target is none other than Dr. Lecter himself. Before he is able to bring Lecter in, the good doctor stabs him, bringing him to the brink of death. Only a last-second thrust of his own saves Graham’s life and leads to the apprehension of the famed serial killer. The stress of the whole situation is just too much for Will Graham, however, so he quits the FBI and moves his family to Florida. Far to the north, in a psychiatric ward in Baltimore, Dr. Lecter begins his long confinement.

Several years later, a new killer has entered the fray. Francis Dolarhyde (Ralph Fiennes), also known as The Tooth Fairy, is butchering entire families while engaging in some peculiar rituals. With nowhere to turn, FBI honcho Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel) seeks out Graham for assistance. Despite swearing off the work forever, Graham is soon drawn back in, willing to help because of his unique ability to visualize crimes. With the clock ticking before the next victim, Graham must hop across the south in his efforts to capture this growing threat. As the hour grows near, Graham must even consider the unimaginable – does Dr. Hannibal Lecter know something that can help him solve this case?

Red Dragon, as originally constituted, is interesting in how little it focuses on Hannibal the Cannibal. Screenwriter Ted Tally adds a little more substance to Lecter’s story, providing more insight into the character and giving Sir Anthony Hopkins more opportunities to chew the scenery. Unfortunately, scenes between Hopkins and Edward Norton are too eerily similar to those with Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs. Capable supporting turns are given by Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, and Anthony Heald, a pleasant returnee from Lambs. Red Dragon is a captivating thriller, made more entertaining by our familiarity with some of the key characters, but let us hope that author Thomas Harris decides this story has now been told.

Cast:

Anthony Hopkins..........Hannibal Lecter
Edward Norton..........Will Graham
Ralph Fiennes..........Francis Dolarhyde
Emily watson..........Reba McClane
Harvey Keitel..........Jack Crawford

Certification: Rated R for violence.
Running Time: 125 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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