Main cast: Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal Lecter), Edward Norton (Will Graham), Ralph Fiennes (Francis Dolarhyde), Harvey Keitel (Jack Crawford), Emily Watson (Reba McClane), Mary-Louise Parker (Molly Graham), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Freddy Lounds)
Director: Brett Ratner
This movie should be called “We’re Whoring Ourselves for Money”, except for Ralph Fiennes, to whom this movie is “I’m Whoring Myself because Damn It, I Want a Big Hit!” Oh, and Philip Seymour Hoffman shows off his underwear-clad body. I hope he gets a decent fitness trainer with his paycheck.
Devoid of any suspense or thrill quotient, Red Dragon strips off whatever eerie atmosphere present in the original 1986 version Manhunter or even Thomas Harris’s overrated book, reducing the whole movie in a really banal affair about serial killer movie stereotypes. Our hero Will Graham captures Hannibal Lecter and is now retired, living happily with his wife and son until he is called forth for one last assignment. A serial killer is killing people in some trademarked gruesome manner, and Will has to ask Hannibal Lecter to help. The usual.
Only this time, Edward Norton seems to be two-thirds petrified in rigor mortis and the other one-third wooden, as he slurs his lines and gaze vacantly at the camera as if he is reading right out of a teleprompter. “Uh… yes, I need a big house, so Hannibal Lecter, tell me, what color is Francis’s thong?”
As for Anthony Hopkins, I doubt even the most die-hard fanboy can forgive him for his over-the-top campy, smarmy drugged-up, over the hill reject act from a drag queen cabaret. While I dislike the whole hype to the point that I really enjoy seeing Hannibal Lecter coming off as a one-note unintentional joke here, I am also offended that Mr Hopkins has to make it so obvious that he’s whoring his smirky face for money and he’s not making me having a good time while he’s at it. Die, smug pig!
Ralph Fiennes’s full frontal nudity is pixelated so that you only see an unnaturally dark “shadow” over that part. Lots of bum scenes though – that man has worked out, oh yeah – and that tattoo is so sexy if you ask sociopathic old me. Watching him, even if he’s acting like a overly melodramatic crazy kook, is pure guilty pleasure. After all, he’s a naked, gorgeous, sexy overly melodramatic crazy kook.
The only decent acting comes from Emily Watson – Phillip Seymour Hoffman by now is acting his trademark vile scum roles that he really should be careful or people may start beating him up on the streets – whose role as Mr Fiennes’s love interest is the only source of restrain and heart wrenching vulnerability. Not that Ms Watson’s Reba is weak, but her face conveys her distress or horror so subtly yet so effectively, she puts the entire hammy movie to shame.
I haven’t even started on the overblown music yet – those loud ka-chang ka-chang or cringe-cringe-cringe soundtracks that threaten to split my eardrums, as if I don’t know that a scene is supposed to be scary and eerie unless they blow apart my eardrums first. Or the unforgivable crime of pixelation of Mr Fiennes’s greatest glory – come on, I’ve seen it in Sunshine, and it’s not that scary.
Strictly for die-hard fanboys or people who just want to see Ralph Fiennes get naked a lot. Otherwise, Red Dragon is hammy and silly, a typical serial killer movie that is made “special” only because it has the asshat clown Hannibal Lecter chewing scenery in it.