Sunday, 8 June 2014

Red Dragon (2002)

"Any rational society would either kill me or put me to some use."

I ought to confess, before anything else, that I haven't seen Manhunter. But this is a different adaptation of the novel, not a remake, so it doesn't break my "no remakes before I've done the original" rule. Besides, the film is deeply entwined with the two predecessors to which it is a sequel, dovetailing very nicely into The Silence of the Lambs.

It's also bloody good, and even manages to pull of the trick of Anthony Hopkins, eleven years older than we first saw him, playing the intellectual, civilised Hannibal Lecter of 1980. Well, aside from the small point that he's feeding his guests human flesh, but it's fascinating to watch a Lecter whose proclivities are as yet unknown. Even more interestingly he's a psychiatric expert in psychopathic killers, and regularly consulted by FBI agent Will Graham, but we quickly move, over the opening titles, to Graham catching him, his trial, and his nine consecutive life sentences, followed by Graham's retirement, although we just know that the cliche of his coming out of retirement is upcoming. 

Interestingly, Lecter is again not the main villain here. The Buffalo Bill this time, the Tooth Fairy, is left mysterious for a bit, and eventually Graham is forced to consult the esteemed Mr Lecter, the approach to the cell echoing The Silence of the Lambs. The twist is, rather nicely, that the Tooth Fairy is a big fan of Hannibal's. The plot is, perhaps, predictable, but it is sufficiently well-realised and well-acted to get away with it. 

The killer's final tragic end eventually comes after a few twists and turns, revelations of a life of abuse and a twist in which we find that he is not, as we had thought, dead. There are lots of jolts and moments of excitement amongst the violence and yet the film still seems to maintain a certain sense of quality, of being more than just a violent thriller. This is yet another sequel which is in fact more than decent.

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