Director: Brett Ratner

Starring: Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes

Year: 2002

Written before Silence of the Lambs and made into a film before as well (Manhunter, 1986), Red Dragon is the story before the one we know best, but definitely the runner-up as far as cinema goes.  Jodie Foster & Anthony Hopkins are a duo that won’t be topped, that film was special, but Edward Norton tries his best, and, really, if anyone could do it, it’s him.  Norton is one of the best actors we’ve ever had the privilege to watch on screen, I truly believe that, and, while this isn’t a perfect film, it’s definitely a fine vehicle in which to show off that skill.

Consulting a brilliant psychologist named Hannibal Lector to get help with a serial murder case, FBI agent Will Graham accidentally stumbles right into the killer’s house, when he discovers that Dr. Lector himself is the madman, eating his victims and earning himself the nickname ‘Cannibal’.  Some time later, and after he retired due to what happened during the capture of Lector, Graham is pulled back into the Bureau by a new case; a man killing entire households.  Putting his own family in danger, Will reenters the mindset of a murderer, and begins asking the imprisoned Lector for advice, which brings about its own unique dangers.

First, of course this isn’t going to rival Silence of the Lambs.  It was written first, it was a movie first, in the 80s, but that was then, this attempt is better and strikes the chord that we were looking for; it feels like a well-made prequel.  Hopkins has a smaller role but is still great, Norton is excellent but weirdly blonde, Fiennes is fantastic, and the side actors do their jobs well: Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Phiip Seymour Hoffman *my god he’s good in what would otherwise be a throwaway role), and Anthony Heald.  The relationship between Fiennes and Morton is really what elevates the film, while Norton & Keitel are on the trail, and it’s a nice study into the minds of all involved, not just a surface serial killer movie.  Red Dragon is still a very good watch years later, and has enough thrills to entertain, while not being stupid or cheap or unremarkable.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆