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Red Dragon

Red Dragon Movie Poster

Universal Pictures, DVD, 2002, Rated R, 2 hr. 6 min.

I liked Silence of the Lambs so much that I was afraid to see this movie because I didn't want to be disappointed in this prequel.  Now I'm mad I waited so long to see what is a very well-written, suspenseful, scary movie with an outstanding cast.  Starring two of my favorite actors (Ralph Fiennes and Edward Norton), I should have known it would be good, but prequels and sequels of movies are rarely as good as the original.  I'm going to stop just shy of saying this movie is as good as Silence of the Lambs, but it does hold its own, and to be truthful, nothing can directly compare to Silence of the Lambs.  

 In Red Dragon, Norton plays Will Graham, an FBI agent in retirement after capturing serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins).  Graham, who sometimes has a sixth-sense about crime scenes, is drawn back to the FBI to help capture another serial killer, Francis Dolarhyde (Fiennes).

The ensuing chase and glimpse into Dolarhyde's life is exciting, suspenseful, and chilling.  The characters are vivid and, for the most part, believable.

My first of two complaints is that they should have made Dolarhyde actually ugly.  A little scar on Fiennes' face does not take away from the beauty of the man.  That aside, Fiennes was the perfect choice for Dolarhyde.  He was able to play demented, vulnerable, and savage all at the same time.  I truly enjoyed watching him on the screen.  His physicality was perfect for the movie and his back provided an excellent landscape for Dolarhyde's tattoo of the Red Dragon.  When he disrobes to show a full-body tattoo, it is quite a stunning spectacle.  I must stop myself before I gush too much about Fiennes.  So let me take a moment to gush about Norton.  

I am always amazed at the controlled performances that Norton brings to every character he plays.  There is something very interesting to his acting technique - you are never sure if he is underplaying his characters until he completely lets go and gives you the opportunity to see how compelling an actor he is and why the controlled performance is needed to offset the uncontrollable character he becomes.  Norton was the perfect choice to cast as Graham, who goes up against Hopkins' Lecter.  The two of them together are dynamic onscreen in their battle of wills. 

Will and Dr. Lecter (Norton and Hopkins)
Will and Dr. Lecter
(Norton and Hopkins)

Francis (Fiennes)

A killer Francis (Fiennes)
 A killer Francis (Fiennes)

Francis shows his Red Dragon (Fiennes)
Francis shows his Red Dragon

Francis takes a child (Fiennes)
Francis takes a child

Emily Watson is wonderful as Reba, Dolarhyde's blind love interest.  She is convincing as a blind woman and very seductive in her performance.  You feel her loneliness and do not question her attraction to Dolarhyde, another lonely person.

My second and last complaint about the movie surrounds the unbelievable rules regarding Dr. Lecter's phone and mail privileges.  He is able to make a phone call by pretending to call his lawyer and he is able to and send and receive mail without it being monitored.  I found that hard to believe, but then again, I'm not a lawyer and I've never been in jail.  

I enjoyed the references and similarities to  Silence of the LambsRed Dragon features the very despicable Dr. Chilton, the same kindly guard, and scenes in the asylum that are reminiscent of Clarice Starlings's first visit.  

Aside from featuring two of my favorite actors, the movie's score is done by my favorite composer, Danny Elfman.  In all of Elfman's scores, he really seems to get inside the movie and create music that fits perfectly with the characters, tone, and pace of the movie.  In this case, the music moves things along at a fast pace and adds an urgency that is sinister and dark.  

Hats off to Director Brett Ratner who made a compelling, nerve-tensing movie.

The DVD special features include The Criminal Profile of Hannibal Lecter, The Life History of Hannibal Lecter, Hannibal Lecter's FBI Case File, Commentary by Director Brett Ratner and writer Ted Tally, and deleted scenes.

Do you think we got this movie totally wrong? Agree with us? Or just want everyone to know your thoughts? Then start a discussion of this movie in our forums!




Universal Pictures






126 Minutes







Actor / Actress


Anthony Hopkins

Dr. Hannibal Lecter

Edward Norton

Will Graham

Ralph Fiennes

Francis Dolarhyde

Harvey Keitel

Jack Crawford

Emily Watson


Mary-Louise Parker

Molly Graham



Brett Ratner


Ted Tally


Dino De Laurentiis


Dante Spinotti

Director of Photography

Danny Elfman



Reviewed by: Hauntmistress 7/13/2003


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