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21 December 2005

Red Dragon (2002)

Anthony Hopkins (Dr. Lecter), Edward Norton (Will Graham), Ralph Fiennes (Dolarhyde), Emily Watson (Reba), and Harvey Keitel (Crawford)

Directed by Brett Ratner (The Family Man)

From Hollywood Video: "An FBI agent attempts to capture a depraved serial killer known as 'The Tooth Fairy' before he strikes again. In order to crack the puzzle, he'll have to consult the notorious Hannibal Lecter to gain crucial insights into the killer's mind."

This prequel to The Silence of the Lambs was fun little shocker, complete with a "he's not dead yet" scare, a helpless heroine, a not-so-helpless mama with a gun, a shady journalist, etc. etc. While nothing original, it was an entertaining film with far less of the hyped gore of Hannibal and chock full of fantastic actors, many of whom haven't suffered with fifth billing on the credits since they started their careers years ago.

For example, Harvey Keitel was a reliable choice to replace actor Scott Glenn as Jack Crawford. He portrayed a successful combination of relentless ambition and personal accessibility. Emily Watson was astounding, with a flawless American accent and quirky, good-natured humor. But she's been great before; after Angela's Ashes, I was convinced that the London-born actress was actually Irish. And if I could not find Ralph Fiennes attractive in Sunshine, I certainly was out of luck in this flick. He was creepy, pathetic, and very convincing as a man who lost his grip on the real world. However, the exaggerated nature of the role did not allow him to explore the subtleties of madness and evil, as he did so successfully when portraying Nazi officer Amon Goeth in Schindler's List.

The biggest disappointments, however, were Norton and Hopkins. After witnessing the screen magic Edward Norton can conjure, such as with his break-out role in Primal Fear, this performance was stale and oddly miscast. He was too young? He was trying too hard? Even after several days to reflect on this issue, I cannot pinpoint why he was wrong for the part... but he was. And Hopkins just needs to stop all of this Lecter nonsense. Yes, he was great the first time around, but every slasher screen villain gets old after so many similar and clichéd performances. Every trick used in The Silence of the Lambs was seen again here with cripplingly diminished impact and originality.

That said, Brett Ratner's directing style was encouraging, which is an important consideration because he is directing this summer's X-Men 3. While heavy-handed and lacking any sort of inter-personal subtlety - ironic because he directed the entirely inter-personal, endearing movie The Family Man - he knew how to impart a sense of urgency to plot.

Blogger Diva Kitty's Mom said...

Norton was rather wooden, I expected so much more especially after seeing him in Fight Club & Primal Fear and Hopkins was just a caricature of himself in the first movie.

I’ve always ‘liked’ Hopkins as an actor, I’m just not one of those who think he’s all that. I’d much rather watch Gambon.


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