Red Dragon review by The Grim Ringler

Red Dragon

Who woulda thunk it, Bret Ratner is a damn good director. I almost don’t want to believe it, but well, he is. And this is a pretty great movie. Not completely great but I will get to that.

Supposedly the last of the Hannibal movies, this is a re-telling of the first book of the same name, and while it was made rather well in the mid-eighties by a man named Michael Mann, and titled Manhunter, this is the same story, but different, and a little better. You see, it’s the same story, but this version has more meat to it, and lets you see the movie’s killer of the week – Francis Dolarhyde – as a character, and not as just a monster. And well, there’s always the Hannibal bonus, and man, Hopkins just ROCKS as the good doctor at this point. Hell, it’s neat to see a horrific character that is taken seriously, unlike a popular knife-gloved fella I won’t name.

Edward Norton plays Will Graham, the man that brought Doctor Hannibal ‘the Cannibal’ Lecter to justice, almost getting killed in the process. But he is retired, the Lecter case and the media frenzy surrounding it making his decision for him, and he is content to spend his days in Florida with his wife and son. That is until ex-boss Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel rocking ass as usual) brings him a case that has the FBI flummoxed, the kind of case Graham was a master at piecing together. A madman is targeting families and after stalking them is brutally murdering them and then poses them in a bizarre fashion that they cannot fathom. Graham begrudgingly takes up the case, working as a shadow, not really involved but involved, and the more he checks into the case, the deeper he DOES get involved, knowing that he is close to figuring what the killer, called the Tooth-Fairy in the scandal sheets due to his having bitten the mother’s he killed, is doing. But to really figure out what the motive is behind the killings, Graham needs the help of Lecter to get back into the mindset to find the Tooth-Fairy, something Lecter relishes greatly. But the closer Will gets to the Tooth-Fairy, the more interested the Tooth-Fairy gets in he and his family.

As usual, I am loathe to give away more than that because even if you saw Manhunter the endings are totally different and I hate giving endings away. Needless to say it’s very good and sorta surprising. The real draw of course is Lecter, and Anthony Hopkins does his part to make sure he lives up to the hype, and I think this is maybe the best he’s done as the doctor, using his voice and eyes to show that he is still as dangerous as ever, even if he is chained and ‘safe’. And Ralph Fiennes is wonderful as Francis Dolarhyde as well, playing this killer with such compassion and sadness that you feel for this man that feels so ugly that it turns into psychosis. I guess the weak link in the acting for me was Norton. And it isn’t that he is bad, but it’s that he isn’t as good as, well, William Petersen nailed Will Graham perfectly in Manhunter – a man so deadened by all he has seen that he is almost somnambulant, but always there is a glimmer of what Lecter sees, the possibility of the madman lurking beneath – and with Norton, this doesn’t come through as strongly. He just felt like a good man that wants to do good things, not a man tortured by the possibility of what he could become.

And I have to credit Ratner and all involved for tying this in with the other two films in the series because they nailed the dark feel of Silence, and Dolarhyde’s house captured the horror of Hannibal to a tee, and dammit, it was cool that they managed to keep two holdovers from the other films – characters and actors I will not mention. And the grand finale was pretty neat too for us geeks of the films, a very nice way to end it, and to begin it, as it were.

Red Dragon is a very worthy film in what has turned out to be a damn good trilogy…barring any further films. And I gotta say, it is pretty cool to imagine a day when you can watch all three films, and nary a dud in the bunch, it just sucks that they’ll package them all together and you are screwed if you bought them otherwise. D’oh! …c…

8 out of 10 Jackasses

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