This was a fantastic film, but it slipped under many people's radar for three reasons:
1) The critics said (and rightly so) that it is not as good as the Silence of the Lambs. However, I find it difficult to compare the films, largely because Will Graham (Norton) is completely different to Clarice Starling (Foster). The different dimension they bring to the investigation is enough, by itself, to distinguish them beyond comparison.
2) This was the third film in the series. The problem with the Hollywood pumping out an absurd number of sequels and prequels (even when the original film was terrible to begin with) is that it alters the public's attitude towards them. People are usually happy to see the "part 2" but beyond that, you're usually down to loyalists. In fact, this situation has been made worse due to the fact that many of the sequels made are shockingly bad (eg, the American Pie sequels, the Highlander sequels). Some are so terrible that they can actually tarnish the memory of the original (eg... Matrix Revolutions). So a third Hannibal film was always going to be an uphill battle.
3) This followed an awful sequel: Hannibal. People who thought Hannibal was terrible (and there's no shortage of them) are likely to turn their nose up at any further sequels or prequels. That's what Hollywood always overlooks - once you pump out one bad sequel (eg, Ocean's Twelve 2004), fewer people will even consider seeing the next sequel, unless it receives almost unanimous critical acclaim.
I did not like Hannibal either and I think that many stars in Hollywood would have turned it down after reading the script. Jodie Foster, with the offer of reprising her academy awarding winning role, and Jon Demme (director of Silence of the lambs) walked away from the Hannibal after disagreements with author (Harris) over the character directions. Hopkins nearly left when Foster and Demme walked, but was persuaded to stay (probably with a nice salary increase!). In any case, key elements were gone and in my view, they ultimately failed to attract a strong supporting cast.
By contrast, I think many actors would have been falling over themselves to land one of the roles in Red Dragon after reading the script. Accordingly, we ended up with Hopkins (reprising his academy award winning role to absolute perfection), Norton (who is the rightful winner of the academy award for American History X in my view, even though the academy went to someone else that year), Harvey Keitel, Ralph Finnes and the brilliant, but under-rated, Phillip Seymore Hoffman. They combine to breath tremendous life into this investigative/thriller. And the opening 5 minutes is magnificent.
However, I have two criticisms that cost it a star. First, it wasn't quite dark enough. Perhaps that masterpiece, the Silence of the Lambs, used up all the visceral attributes that were so pathetically contrived in Hannibal and present, but not powerfully present, in Red Dragon. There certainly was a dark edge, but it just didn't get under my skin the way Silence of the Lambs did (if you'll forgive the pun).
Second, I felt that there were a few off-shoots to the main plot that could have been worked around or seemed to play no real role in the film whatsoever. For example, the tense relationship between Norton and the reporter (Hoffman), Finnes taking the blind girl to listen to the sedated tiger (or lion or whatever it was), Norton teaching his wife to shoot ... and many others. Most of the time, I felt that they should have been left on the cutting room floor as they were of little interest, had little (if any) role in the context of the story and accordingly, unnecessarily bulked out the running time of the film.
Otherwise, terrific viewing. Don't be dissuaded by Hannibal - this sequel achieves where that one so dismally failed.
Crime / Thriller
Crime / Thriller
FBI Agent Will Graham has been called out of early retirement to catch a serial killer, known by authorities as "The Tooth Fairy". He asks for the help of his arch-nemesis, Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter, so that he can be able to catch "The Tooth Fairy" and bring him to justice. The only problem is that "The Tooth Fairy" is getting inside information about Graham and his family from none other than Dr. Lecter.
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September 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm