Red Dragon (2002)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fiennes, good story

Hopkins over-acting, Norton's a bit wishy-washy

 
Movie Info

Movie Name: Red Dragon

Studio: Universal Pictures

Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller/Horror

Release Date(s): October 4, 2002

MPAA Rating: R

red-dragon-hopkins

Listen Norton, I will be the star of this movie…You can’t stop me!

A killer nicknamed the Tooth Fairy has struck two families…the FBI are stumped and are worried he is about to strike again.  Special Agent Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel) realizes he needs help and reaches out to retired FBI Agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) for help.  Graham agrees to profile the killer but finds he is going to have to face Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), the man who forced him to step down as an agent when he was injured capturing him.  Now Graham has to see through Lecter’s lies to find the truth and face his own fear.  Meanwhile the Tooth Fairy (Ralph Fiennes) finds himself doubting the transformation he is undergoing when he meets a new woman (Emily Watson) who is literally blind to what he sees as his disfigurement.  Will Norton stop the Tooth Fairy without putting his family at risk or will the Tooth Fairy be able to fight his murderous urges?

red-dragon-watson

I’m just glad I finally found a normal guy

With the initial success of The Silence of the Lambs in 1991 and its gory sequel Hannibal in 2001, a remake of Thomas Harris’ original book Red Dragon was inevitable.  Red Dragon previously found its way to the screen in 1986 in Michael Mann’s Manhunter with Brian Cox initially bringing the roll of Hannibal Lecter to the screen and William Petersen as the Will Graham character.  Though Manhunter has since found cult popularity, it wasn’t a very big movie until Silence of the Lambs came out in 1991.  Red Dragon had a lot going against it with Manhunter’s popularity, and Brett Ratner whose previous films were mostly just action comedies.  That being said, I don’t think Red Dragon is that bad of a film.

red-dragon-screen

Dude…dude…now I’m going to make a duck!

The movie is pretty faithful to the book and it was smart enough to get strong actors to help bring it to the screen.  Edward Norton is “thinky” enough to pull off the Will Graham character…but it would have been nice if they had a less boyish Graham and more brooding.  Ralph Fiennes, like always, was perfectly creepy as the Tooth Fairy Francis Dolarhyde and really gave it his all.  The supporting help of Keitel, Watson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a skuzzy journalist, and Mary-Louise Parker as Graham’s wife also helped boost this relatively smart suspense script.

Hopkins kind of messes up the flow of the movie ironically enough.  It seems like a pretty intense crime film, but with Lecter’s popularity, his role in the story was made greater.  These scenes are good for Norton but kind of seem like grandstanding for Hopkins who is on the verge of overacting the role that really made him famous.

Red Dragon is a good suspense movie with a number of jumps.  It is a big improvement over Hannibal which had a bad story and tried too hard to be crazy.  Yes Ralph Fiennes character is over the top, but I can believe him more than a disfigured guy in a wheelchair feeding people to flesh-eating boars.  So get over Manhunter love and check out Red Dragon if you haven’t yet.  It is its own entity and has its own creepy feel (and aspects of Red Dragon were used for the NBC Hannibal series).  Red Dragon was followed by Hannibal Rising in 2007.

Related Links:

Manhunter (1986)

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Hannibal (2001)

Hannibal Rising (2007)

Hannibal—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Hannibal—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Hannibal—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by

Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn’t afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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