Thursday, April 21, 2011

Red Dragon. B-

Maybe Zodiac is what keeps me from loving these Hannibal Lector movies because next to it they seem even more generic than they actually are. It's true that Lector is a classic villain, but it takes more than that for a movie to be great . In Red Dragon, Anthony Hopkins is up to his usual psychological machinations and almost as memorable as he was in Lambs. But the rest of the movie was a disappointment. Edward Norton makes for a compelling former FBI agent on the track of a killer who has murdered two families and is apparently just getting started. But once the killer is revealed to be a disturbed man who thinks he is a dragon when his murderous side invades his weak, taciturn persona, the movie got boring. Lector disappears for the most part and the story puts too much focus on the killer. Played by Ralph Fiennes, he's portrayed as a haunted psychopath whose relentlessly abusive youth turned him into a monster we should feel sympathy for. But then the movie pulls the rug from under us with a completely contradictory, not to mention cliched, ending. So, what exactly should we feel about this killer who gets so much attention in the film? The good news is that Norton brings a quiet, dramatic energy to his role that's fittingly low-key, in contrast to Fiennes and Hopkins. He creates a character motivated by his obsession, yet constrained because of the guilt he feels for leaving his family for the work he had quit. I was hoping for a great movie in Red Dragon in comparison to its compelling but average predecessors. Unfortunately it's in about the same league as those movies, which isn't a bad thing, but still a bit of a letdown. Or maybe they're all great, and I just love Zodiac too much.

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