Red Dragon

Dir: Brett Ratner
Star: Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson

It has been so long since I watched Manhunter, that I really can't remember enough of it to tell whether this is the very close remake Chris reckoned. About all I recall was the bit where a guy got set on fire and sent down a ramp in a wheelchair. Couldn't even remember who it was. That said, I've got a definite sense that the original version was superior. The plot certainly seems almost identical. A killer, dubbed the Tooth Fairy by the press, is taking out whole familes at the full moon, with ritualistic abandon, and the FBI calls on former agent Will Graham (Norton) to see if he can help. He left the service after managing to trap genius serial cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins, who else?), albeit almost at the cost of his own life, but agrees to assist and visits Lecter to see if he is willing to divulge any insights into his colleague in the serial killing game. Doing so is potentially a risky move, and so it proves, as Lecter points the Tooth Fairy in the direction of Graham's family.

There's almost nothing memorable here, not even Hopkins, who was so utterly memorably in Silence of the Lambs. Now, he presents all the threat of a boogeyman; whether due to familiarity or Ratner's lack-lustre direction, it's hard to say, but since the rest of the (admittedly impressive) cast appear to be sleepwalking their way through their roles, I would be inclined towards the latter. The sheer pointlessness of this remake escapes. There's nothing apparently new brought to the party e.g. Cat People. It's not as technology has now caught up with the demands of the script, e.g. The Thing [No: Carpenter's one]. It's not a remake of a foreign film in which people speak a funny language, and so needs to be re-created for the great American audience, e.g. The Ring. It's not even as if a long time had elapsed since the original, meaning there was a whole new generation unaware of its delights e.g. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Manhunter appeared only sixteen years earlier. The cast should have made this an awful lot better than it is, and I'm left with nothing more than a strong desire to check out the original, and remind myself of its qualities.

[December 2011]

Dead red
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