I thought as a prequel to the fantastic ‘Silence of the Lambs’ this film was going to be a cash grab.  I clearly do not have enough faith in Anthony Hopkins

Certificate: 15

Director: Brett Ratner

Screenwriter: Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes

Genre: Crime, Thriller

Runtime: 124 Minutes

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

After being the one to catch the illusive Dr Hannibal Lecter, a man he had frequently turned to for help in tough cases, and narrowly escaping death at his hand, FBI Agent Will Graham has to once again seek the help of the infamous madman.  Serving time in a secure prison for his grisly crimes, Lecter agrees to help Will track down the ‘Tooth Fairy’ a serial killer who has managed to evade the FBI and who is killing entire families in a brutal fashion.  But how far is Will prepared to go to find the killer, and how much can he really trust Hannibal Lecter?

So many film franchises try to squeeze as much money out of people as they can with constant sequels, prequels and reboots.  As the number of films in a franchise goes up, the quality of them usually goes down.  Think of franchises like Paranormal Activity, Saw, Fast and Furious, these are all perfect examples.  So when me and a bunch of friends decided to watch Red Dragon, a prequel to Silence of the Lambs for all intents and purposes, I was instantly sceptical. 

Thankfully a strong returning cast help to make the experience a little less jarring and it goes a long way to keeping the high quality performances we are used to from films in this series.  As always, Anthony Hopkins returns to play Dr Lecter, because who else would we want to do it to be honest.  And he is still just as suave, classy and completely insane as always.  I was less convinced by Edward Norton’s casting as Will Graham.  I think he lacked a certain degree of vulnerability that the character needed to make us really feel sorry for him and empathise with him.  Ralph Fiennes as Dolerhyde was a good choice just the right amount of crazy balanced with an obviously harrowing backstory.  I would have liked a bit more of an explanation about his upbringing to round out his character, but he still played a great villain.

The crux of the plot, besides the hunt for ‘The Tooth Fairy’ is Will’s relationship with Dr Lecter.  And as such, I would have liked to see more interaction between them.  Especially from before Hannibal was imprisoned.  There were hints that Lecter helped Will on more than a few occasions and I would have liked to see more of their friendship, before it all went belly up. 

The actual hunt for the serial killer that is going on in the film though is a fantastic suspenseful ride.  Nothing overly violent is really shown on screen, except for a brief tongue biting scene which made me cringe a whole lot.  No real use of jump scares or other typical horror movie devices.  Instead it is the excellent writing and performances that creates and maintains the atmosphere the entire time.  And then just when you think it’s over, it ramps back up again. 

If you love Silence of the lambs, please do give this one a try.  It has all the atmosphere and grisly storytelling without the critical acclaim.  Red Dragon is Streaming for free on Netflix now!