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Red Dragon

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Red Dragon

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton
Director: Brett Ratner
Rated: R
RunTime: 120 Minutes
Release Date: October 2002
Genres: Drama, Suspense, Horror

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

For the remake of MANHUNTER, the first of the Hannibal Lecter movies, Universal Pictures turned to director Brett Ratner, whose background is not in thrillers but in comedies such as the RUSH HOUR series. The resulting movie, titled RED DRAGON, is flat and plodding, which is quite surprising given the sensational material with which Ratner had to work. Its A-list cast (Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Mary-Louise Parker) is packed with current and future Academy Award winners and nominees. But with all of this talent, the best that can be said of the movie is that it really makes you want to go out and rent Michael Mann's MANHUNTER again. Michael Mann -- he can create some tension. Ratner should have studied the original film a little closer.

Don't get me wrong, this version is a serviceable movie. It's a film that covers all of the bases, albeit none exceptionally or memorably. Hopkins, as Lecter, is as funny, albeit not nearly as scary, as ever. Norton, as retired Detective Will Graham, brings his usual high degree of intelligence and commitment to his part, but the director is never able to tap into Norton's vast emotional reservoir.

In a supporting role, Watson gives a very precise and impressive rendition of Reba McClane, a blind woman with a big heart who befriends the story's killer. If you remember the plot of MANHUNTER, the imprisoned Lecter is not the killer this time, but someone whom Graham turns to for advice in tracking down a serial killer known as the Tooth Fairy. Hoffman adds his special something to the role of Freddy Lounds, a pesky tabloid report who ends up aiding the police in the investigation. Finally, last and certainly least, Fiennes, as the Tooth Fairy, delivers one of his weakest performances in an unconvincing characterization.

If MANHUNTER is checked out at your video store, seeing RED DRAGON isn't a bad second choice, but, personally, I'd wait until a copy of MANHUNTER came back in.

RED DRAGON runs a long and frequently slow 2:04. It is rated R for "violence, grisly images, language, some nudity and sexuality" and would acceptable for most teenagers.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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