Released October 4th, 2002

Director: Brett Ratner

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Anthony Heald, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harvey Keitel, Mary Louise Parker, Emily Watson, Cliff Dorfman, Tyler Patrick Jones, Ken Leung, Anthony Reynolds, Tom Verica

Premise: This is the story of former FBI agent Will Graham (Norton), nearly killed by Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins), who finds himself asking the imprisoned killer for help in solving a new serial killer, Francis Dolarhyde.

Before Hannibal. Before Silence of the Lambs. There was evil in its purest form. That is the tag line that Red Dragon uses to lure the followers of Hannibal the Cannibal to the latest feature. Red Dragon is not exactly an original film. The film is a prequel to the previous Hannibal Lecter films but it is also a remake. Red Dragon is actually a remake of the first Hannibal Lecter movie, Manhunter, which starred Brian Cox as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Now Anthony Hopkins returns to the role that made him more famous then any other role he has played. Many people anticipated the return of this sinister villain in Hannibal but after a huge opening weekend and lackluster reviews, the film dropped quickly from the public eye. But the opening weekend was enough to spawn a prequel to the film. Will Red Dragon suffer the same fate as its predecessor or will it turn back the clock and bring the series back to its former glory?

The story takes place several years after FBI agent Will Graham had captured Dr. Hannibal Lecter, which had resulted in a bloody confrontation between the two. Graham had left the FBI because of this but he is sought out by Agent Crawford to help out with one last case. Will posseses an ability to get into the mind of the criminal and capture them quickly. After searching through evidence of the disturbing murders of two families, Will admits that had help in his cases. That help came from Dr. Hannibal Lecter, who is now in jail serving nine consecutive life sentences. Now Will must face his greatest fear of confronting Lecter again. If he doesn't then more and more people will die from the hands of this serial mad man. The story of Red Dragon is well done. It sets up a good opener of how Lecter was captured but the injured sustained by Lecter in that confrontation are not fully explained in the course of the film, which confused the audience. Outside of small squabbles, the story envelops the audience and really brings them into a suspense thriller that is well played.

Anthony Hopkins gives, once again, a stirring performance as Hannibal the Cannibal. He presents a character that is not only intelligent but one that will leave chills down your back. He plays him so well that it seems that he was destined to Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Edward Norton gives a good performance as Will Graham. His character isn't cared for as much as Clarice in the previous Lecter films but then again, the audience isn't as attached to him as they are Clarice, emotionally that is. Ralph Fiennes presents a quite but twisted look to a serial killer. He plays the role straight out as a man who knows what he is doing is wrong but has no emotional control over. Others characters within the film are played as they should be and do not stand out amongst the earlier mentioned cast.

Overall, Red Dragon was a good film but not a fantastic film. One which the audience enjoyed but really didn't gain much from. The story played well with its two hour time frame but there were moments that offset this generally good film. There were parts in the plot like the ending to the confrontation between Lecter and Graham in the opening sequence and whole ending to the film that confused the audience and really let them down. The ending to this film could have been taken to a whole new level but they stuck with one that was sort of expected. Not to say that everything in the film was bad. The story played out for the most part except for the previously mentions plot holes. The acting from Hopkins, Norton and Fiennes really set this film from the rest of the trash that is currently cluttering the box office theaters. Plus the way Red Dragon transitions itself into Silence of the Lambs film by introducing Clarice but not showing her was very well done by the film makers. But all those good things can't take away the feeling the audience was a little cheated with the ending. This is a good film to see opposed to trash like Knockaround Guys and The Tuxedo which may or may not be getting more attention then films like this.

My Rating: ***1/2 out of 5