Monday, October 10, 2011

Red Dragon

By s. Monday, October 10, 2011 , , , , , , ,
(124 min, 2002)
Director: Brett Ratner
Writers: Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton and Ralph Fiennes

All things truly wicked start from an innocence.

FBI Agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) has been called out of early retirement to catch a serial killer, known by authorities as "The Tooth Fairy" (Ralph Fienes). He asks for the help of his arch-nemesis, Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), so that he can be able to catch "The Tooth Fairy" and bring him to justice. The only problem is that "The Tooth Fairy" is getting inside information about Graham and his family from none other than Dr. Lecter

“The Silence of the Lambs” is a legendary movie. Right there, Anthony Hopkins created one of the most fascinating and terrifying villains in the history of cinema. More than a decade later Ridley Scott made sequel to the story - “Hannibal”. The film was very disappointing and instead of focusing on the nature of evil, exploration of dark places of characters' minds and building chilling atmosphere it served its audience ridiculous amount of senseless gore, weak script and overall grotesque (in a bad sense of this word) experience. Finally, with “Red Dragon” came a movie with rich characters, interesting story and Hannibal Lecter once again playing his sophisticated, devilish games.

Are some of the people born evil or do they simply become it along their way? Is evil hiding in all of us? Are we all capable of unimaginable violence, the cruel infliction of pain and monstrosity? We'll probably never know what really lies in the bottom of our soul and what our nature truly is. Both the beginnings of Hannibal Lecter and the story of the killer in “Red Dragon” - Francis Dollarhyde - seem to hint that the evil is born when other people unleash it on us.

“Red Dragon” is a remarkable movie for one reason – the portrait of the killer. And I don't mean Lecter. It is the first time that the movie succeeded so amazingly in my eyes in showing that some people become psychopaths, dangerous criminals and cruel beasts because they truly don't have a choice - it is happening regardless of their will, of their once innocent nature. True illness, one that cannot be overcome. Francis Dollarhyde, for years abused by his family, never knowing love or care, grew up to be a monster. But his good side is still strong enough to fight.

The conflict is portrayed in two sets of scenes – the ones in which the Dragon, Dollarhyde's evil side is taking over and makes him kill and the ones where he is enjoying his relationship with sweet blind woman from his work, Reba. In those scenes Ralph Fiennes manages to portray his character equally believably – he displays horrible cruelty which makes us scared of him when he succumbs to the evil side, and in the scenes with Emily Watson he shows genuine tenderness, clumsiness and the longing to be close to someone – it's impossible not to feel for him. The scene were he offers to give Reba a ride home is astonishing – in any other movie when you see the killer stopping the car next to innocent woman you'd immediately think he wants to kill her. Here that thought doesn't even come to your mind – Dollarhyde simply wants to help Reba and there is nothing sinister about his intentions. That duality, striking and extreme, works because of strong character development and Fiennes, who although doesn't look like his character in the book (think Jason Statham) is the perfect actor when it comes to Dollarhyde's personality – Fiennes is equally terrific playing romantic hero and horrifying villains. Francis Dollarhyde is Justin Quyale combined with Lord Voldemort. And that combination is amazing to watch.

The Dragon, his evil side originally was supposed to speak with the voice of Frank Langella. It's a good thing that idea was dropped, I find it to be a little bit ridiculous. Why the Dragon? Probably because it's a strong, terrifying creature and Francis, dealing with so much pain and cruelty, wanted people to fear him his entire life. The parallels between the story and William Blake's painting are fascinating to watch.

Lecter, once again played by sir Hopkins, is omnipotent presence that we sense throughout entire movie. Although he is locked in his cell he still finds way to toy with the police and with Will Graham, (bland performance from Edward Norton) the cop who captured him. Despite being locked and only given few privileges, Lecter controls both Dollarhyde (who is his avid fan) and the team that tries to catch him. He's like a giant spider, catching everyone in his deadly web.

The supporting cast includes Harvey Keitel, Philip Seymour Hoffman and previously mentioned Emily Watson, who are all fantastic. Except for Norton's character every key player in the intrigue is richly characterized, those are complex, interesting people, some of them repulsive, as Hoffman's scandal-thirsty reporter, some fascinating as passionate and handicapped Reba. I loved that, despite having cast that extensive, every actor got his moment to shine in the movie.

The film is elegantly shot and the score by Danny Elfman is thrilling. I loved that the film doesn't use gore like “Hannibal” did but disturbs us with something else, with scenes that are very unsettling without a drop of blood – particularly the scene were Reba begins to arouse Dollarhyde as he watches the video of his next victims, to which she is totally oblivious. Unfortunately, the conclusion to the story is quite predictable and uses one very unnecessary twist, but I very much enjoyed the last scene which links “Red Dragon” to “The Silence of the lambs”. If you enjoy movies about the dark side of people, good thrillers and fantastic acting – this is definitely the movie to see as soon as possible.


1 comment:

  1. I doubt I'll ever go back and watch this, but I dug this review. Fiennes can be electric, and Hopkins is a f--king force, but really all I remember about this film are the unblinking eyes of Watson. That shit still haunts me.

    Good God Hannibal was stupid. I wanted to eat my own brains after that one.