RED DRAGON (2002) Reviews and overview

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Red Dragon is a 2002 American psychological thriller film based on Thomas Harris’ novel of the same name, featuring psychiatrist and serial killer Doctor Hannibal Lecter. It is a prequel toThe Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Hannibal (2001). The novel was originally adapted in the film Manhunter (1986). The film’s score was composed by Danny Elfman (Batman).


The film was directed by Brett Ratner and written for the screen by Ted Tally, who also wrote the screenplay for The Silence of the Lambs. It again stars Anthony Hopkins as Lecter, a role he played twice before, and Edward Norton as FBI agent Will Graham. The film also stars Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Red Dragon‘s theatrical release grossed $209,196,298 worldwide against a reported budget of $78 million.


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Plot teaser:

In Baltimore, Maryland psychiatrist Doctor Hannibal Lecter attends a symphonic orchestra performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The flute player repeatedly misses out on his part, profoundly irritating Lecter.

Later, Lecter hosts a dinner party in his townhouse for the orchestra’s board of directors at which the disappearance of a musician, a flute player, is brought up during conversation.

After the party, Lecter is later visited by Will Graham, a gifted FBI agent and a psychologist, with whom he has been working on a psychological profile of a serial killer who has removed edible body parts from his victims, leading Graham to believe that the killer could be a cannibal. During the consultation, Graham discovers evidence implicating Lecter in the murders. Lecter attacks Graham, almost disembowelling him, before Graham overpowers Lecter. Lecter is sentenced to life imprisonment in an institution for the criminally insane while Graham, traumatised by the experience, retires from the FBI.


Some years later, another serial killer, nicknamed “The Tooth Fairy”, appears. He stalks and kills seemingly random Southern families during sequential full moons. Hoping to capture the killer before his next attack, Special Agent Jack Crawford seeks Graham’s assistance in determining his psychological profile. When the death of another family weighs on his conscience, Graham reluctantly agrees. After visiting the crime scenes and speaking with Crawford, he concludes that he must once again consult Doctor Lecter for advice…



‘ … audiences will be excused for any feelings of déjà vu the new film might inspire. That won’t prevent them from watching it in rapt, anxious silence, however, as the gruesome crimes, twisted psychology and deterministic dread that lie at the heart of Harris’ work are laid out with care and skill.’ Variety

‘This darkly seductive, flawlessly acted piece is worlds removed from most horror films. Here monsters have their grandeur, heroes their gravity. And when they collide, a dance of death ensues between two souls doomed to understand each other.’ Time


‘If you buy the overprocessed headcheese of the serial killer as refined genius, you’ll love Red Dragon. Or maybe not. Even Hannibal Lecter devotees may lose patience with this picture’s grandiose, self-serious ponderousness — that’s Lecterese for, ‘It’s kind of boring in patches, actually.’ Salon


‘ … Ratner does a sure, stylish job, appreciating the droll humor of Lecter’s predicament, creating a depraved new villain in the Tooth Fairy (Ralph Fiennes), and using the quiet, intense skills of Norton to create a character whose old fears feed into his new ones. There is also humor, of the uneasy he-can’t-get-away-with-this variety, in the character of a nosy scandal-sheet reporter (Philip Seymour Hoffman).’


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  • Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter
  • Edward Norton as Will Graham
  • Ralph Fiennes as Francis Dolarhyde
  • Harvey Keitel as Jack Crawford
  • Emily Watson as Reba McClane
  • Mary-Louise Parker as Molly Graham
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman as Freddy Lounds
  • Frank Whaley as Ralph Mandy
  • Anthony Heald as Frederick Chilton
  • Ken Leung as Lloyd Bowman
  • Frankie Faison as Barney Matthews
  • Ellen Burstyn as voice of Grandma Dolarhyde
  • Tyler Patrick Jones as Josh Graham


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