Movie Review: Everyone's ‘Fava'-rite Serial Killer-The Prequel

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A serrated knife is sharp enough to pierce, but so dull that it rips apart flesh as it is removed and still seems like a papercut compared to the incisiveness of "Red Dragon."

So sharp is the acting and directing of the movie that the film experience at times so piercing that viewers may leave the theater visibly injured. Emotionally traumatic, dark and chaotic, the film truly plunges into the darkest recesses of the human mind. The most disturbing thing is, we enjoy it.

Anthony Hopkins IS Hannibal.

As surely as it was a pleasure in 1991, audiences will stream to theaters to taste and feel the experience of seeing Doctor Hannibal Lecter once again. His sociopathic tendencies, brilliance, and a taste for good wine and human flesh have created such a rich character that he has become more than a pop icon. Dr. Lecter has become the world's most admired devil.

The devil hasn't lost his charm, even after a decade and a horrendous sequel. "Red Dragon" hits nearly all the right notes in the new chapter of cinema's most ghastly biopic of deranged genius.

"Red Dragon" opens with the capture of Dr. Lecter, once again defined by Anthony Hopkins. His captor and the principle character of the movie is FBI agent Will Graham (Ed Norton). Like the original, the FBI agent enlists the aid of Dr. Lecter to help find serial killer on the loose, Francis Dolarhyde played beautifully by Ralph Fiennes.

The movie is piercingly dark and seductive. It sucks its viewers into the mad world of its two conflicting evils, the clearly deranged Dolarhyde and the charismatic intelligent Lecter. Unlike the past two movies in the series, "Red Dragon" creates a balance of evil that makes the movie fuller. Dolarhyde and Lecter's characters balance each other and complimented one and another in disgustingly fascinating way. It's a perverse duality of sorts -we are too horrified to look, but too terrified to look away. The rich characterization of both characters and their synthesis into a grand evil is a drug; we are addicted even though it makes us sick.

Graham's character adds to the dark brew a human element. He is the viewer transposed into this dark tragedy. Bending and folding, he is caught between the horrors of the world he lives in and his own sanity. Setting himself in the shoes of the madmen he chases, he has created an imaginative world of terrors that he can't so easily escape. Drawn back into the dark game to stop Dolarhyde, Graham is complex protagonist who's perverse talent to see the world through the eyes of madmen is his ultimate curse.

Graham is however too strong of a character. Norton plays him excellently, but so well that it distracts from Hopkin's portrayal of Lecter. In the other movies, Lecter is complimented by Clarice Sterling, a usually weaker female role. In both movies, Lecter bulls over Sterling, in the end getting caught up in his own insanity. Graham, being the person who caught him, is an equal match for the indomitable flesh devouring doctor.

One of the greatest attributes to this edition is the stellar supporting cast. Philip Seymor-Hoffman, Mary Louise Parker and Emily Watson help to give "Red Dragon" an incredible depth.

"Red Dragon" is piercingly dark. The acting and directing in the movie are so acute that the deranged inhabitants of this film literally cut deep into the minds of the viewers. Fortunatly the curtain falls and the credits roll and we are ripped from the chaos we had a brief glance into.


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