Red Dragon, which opened Friday, Oct. 4, is the prequel to Silence of the Lambs.
In it, we are introduced not only to Hannibal Lecter, but also to Will Graham, the man who caught him.
The film begins simply enough, with Lecter hosting a lavish dinner party.
Everyone wants to know, “What did you put in this delicious pate?” To which Lecter replies, “If you knew … you wouldn’t try it.”
But the joke is on Lecter. Later that evening, Graham from the FBI stops by to see Lecter.
The kind doctor has been helping him create a profile of a wanted murderer.
Following a serious stabbing match between the two, Lecter is behind bars and Graham has retired.
For the most part, Red Dragon works.
Of course, it isn’t nearly as creepy as Silence of the Lambs, but not many things are.
Ed Norton offers a perfect performance as Graham and Anthony Hopkins proves to be an effectively eerie Lector once again.
On the other hand, Red Dragon does miss the mark in several ways.
We really aren’t taken into the mind of the killer, Francis Dolarhyde.
The movie offers some Psycho-derivative, “I’m hearing the voice of my dead relative” scenes, but other than that, you aren’t really allowed to see into the killer’s torturous childhood.
But the book gives a much better account of Dolarhyde’s childhood trauma, which gives a much better sense of his humanity and we are given the opportunity to feel for him.
The only human characteristics we see are through his extremely strained and awkward relationship with Reba McClane, a blind woman from work.
She gives Dolarhyde the first glimpse he’s ever had of a somewhat “normal” relationship in his life, and therefore causes some major strife between himself and his Dragon persona.
Luckily, Dolarhyde is played by Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes is so adept at playing morally un-redeeming characters (i.e. Nazi bastard Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List) that he brings Dolarhyde, and the Dragon, to life.
Overall, the movie is enjoyable – save for the completely unbelievable action sequences.
Let’s just say that certain people take way to many bullets to realistically survive.
But the scenes between Norton and Hopkins make this a more than worthwhile expenditure of a Friday night.
It is a much, much better movie than the dismal Hannibal, but doesn’t even come close to matching Silence.
Jeremy Smith can be reached at email@example.com