Red Dragon drags the excitement back to theatres

Oct. 21, 2002, midnight | By Zach Mellman | 21 years, 1 month ago

As the prequel to the 1991 classic Silence of the Lambs, Brett Ratner's Red Dragon is arguably the years best horror movie. It is upsetting and intense, and unfortunately disturbingly believable.

Red Dragon is a fortunate variation of the Feardotcoms of the recent past, as Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), this era's boogieman, could scare the unconscious with his evil smile and chilling glare, not to mention the whole "eating people" part.

In the fourth film in the series we find clever FBI Agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) working on a murder case with "Hannibal the Cannibal" in 1980, though it is difficult to believe that this wrinkly old man is 21 years younger that when he starred in the disappointing Hannibal last year. After Graham realizes that Lecter is the real killer, the two men battle. In their bloodbath, Graham is wounded and quits his job, while Lecter is thrown into his unforgettable cell in a maximum security insane asylum in Baltimore.

Nevertheless, years later, Graham returns to the FBI after his boss, Jack Crowford (Harvey Keitel), seeks his help in locating a psychotic family murderer. The killer is nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy" by Freddy Lounds (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a sleazy reporter who works for the "Tattler," because of the unusual bite marks he leaves on his victims.

Graham predictably comes to Lecter for information, just as Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) had done back in (or forward in) Silence of the Lambs. The wonderfully horrible evil genius helps Graham in his effort to catch "The Tooth Fairy".

Unlike either of the earlier blockbusters, Ratner, who also directed both Rush Hour films, advantageously decides to let us observe the killer, Francis Dolarhyde (Ralph Fiennes), in his emotional rampage instead of revealing his identity at the end, as in the previous two films.

Dolarhyde, who was abused as a child by his grandmother, is seemingly possessed by William Blake's "Red Dragon," a symbol tattooed on his back that makes him kill. We also witness his awkward romantic relationship with Reba McClane (Emily Watson), his blind, attractive coworker.

In addition to the frightening plot, Red Dragon's dialogue seems realistic yet meticulously crafted, and the acting is excellent as each character helps to make this movie memorable.

Official Site:

RED DRAGON (124 minutes at area theaters) is rated R for violence, grisly images, language, some nudity and sexuality.

Tags: print

Zach Mellman. Zach Mellman was born on October 18, 1956 (he was held back once or twice). He has lived in Takoma Park, Maryland his entire life. He is currently a senior at Blair enrolled in honors classes. He is also a member of Blair's golf team, … More »

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