Directed by Brett Ratner.
Written by Ted Tally. Based on the novel by Thomas Harris.
Starring Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes and Harvey
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 10/13/02
That Hannibal Lecter sure is showing up in a
lot of movies! “Red Dragon” is the fourth Lecter theatrical
release, but it—like the 1986 Michael Mann film “Manhunter”—is based
on the Thomas Harris novel “Red Dragon” and serves as a prequel to
the Oscar-winning film “The Silence of the Lambs.” I actually liked
the Mann version of the film, starring William Petersen of “CSI”
fame, but author Harris did not...hence, a remake.
Unlike “Manhunter”, “Red Dragon” has just an
unbelievable cast and in terms of the film’s balance in its
characters, “Red Dragon” is better than all of the other three
films. Where to start? Ed Norton is a good place, since he is the
star of the film, and once again, Norton is just really watchable.
He’s not as good here as his best work, in “Primal Fear” or
Score”, but his role as an FBI profiler here makes him look older
than he really is and he makes it fun to watch as he figures out the
crime going on around him. Or maybe Harvey Keitel, who gives life
to the FBI character that teams up with Will Graham; the role is
thankless but Keitel does good work with it. Ralph Fiennes is great
once again, and that badass tattoo makes him look even more scary
when he sits next to love interest...Emily Watson, who is great as
an American and livens up her scenes with just her smile. Philip
Seymour Hoffman is a slimeball once again and he does this role so
well, it’s no wonder that he plays it twice a year in major motion
Naturally, though, the money shots in “Red
Dragon” come in the scenes featuring Norton and Anthony Hopkins,
back for a third time as Lecter and seemingly loving every minute
(or dollar) of it. The best scene in this movie might be the one
where Graham needs more information on Fiennes’ psychopath Frances
Dolarhyde, so Graham visits Lecter as he is spending some time
walking around a guided track, and when Lecter slips into a fake
Southern accent, he had my audience howling. It felt like Hopkins
wanted to go out with a bang with this character, and I think he
accomplished that. But, how did someone wrangle this performance
out of him?
That is the biggest surprise of this
film—the direction is great, and the film was directed by Brett
Ratner! FUCKING BRETT RATNER!! Don’t get me wrong, I thought that
“Rush Hour” and its sequel were good films, but they were buddy
action films carried mostly by Jackie Chan’s stunt choreography team
and ad-libbing by Chris Tucker. Here, the performances are very
precise and there is not a lot of leeway, and the scenes featuring
Norton and Hopkins (as well as Fiennes and Watson) are very, very
well done. When I first heard that Ratner was directing this film,
I was sure it would be worse than
“Hannibal”, which was a
not-so-good movie in its own right.
The movie is a bit long, and the one place
where “Manhunter” beats “Red Dragon” is in the handling of scenes
involving phone calls by Graham to his wife to check in on his
family; here, you don’t really get any of that until the end of the
movie. In an early scene of “Red Dragon”, Will tells his wife
(so-so by Mary-Louise Parker, but given the writing, not really her
fault) that he will call her...but, we never get to see any
interaction with the twosome as he is working on the Dolarhyde case.
“Red Dragon” is a mostly-solid film, though,
carried by a great script and great performances in the leads. If
you can get by people with their eye sockets carved out with glass,
you should be just fine.
Rating: $9.00 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard