review for Red Dragon on AllMovie

Red Dragon (2002)
by Perry Seibert review

Red Dragon is certainly worthy of its relationship to Silence of the Lambs (unlike the superfluous Hannibal). Ted Tally's uncanny ability to translate Thomas Harris' work for the screen (he won the Oscar for his adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs, provides a solid story as well as juicy parts for each member of the highly talented ensemble. Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel and Anthony Hopkins are all given extreme characters to play, and they do a superb job of not overplaying the material. They make serial killers, a blind woman that loves a serial killer, and the cops that chase serial killers all believable. Philip Seymour Hoffman deserves special notice for stealing every scene he is in, as well as for providing welcome laughs in tense situations that still fail to dissipate that tension. The most noticeable difference between Red Dragon and the previous adaptation, Michael Mann's Manhunter, is that the character of Will Graham has been changed. In the book, as well as in Manhunter, Graham is on the edge of a total mental breakdown. His ability to think like Lecter, the skill that allowed for Lecter's capture, took a heavy psychic toll on him and his loved ones. In this film, Graham is cool and in control. This change makes the film a different entity from both the book and Manhunter. While Red Dragon is closer to the letter of the book, Manhunter is closer to the spirit. Both are worthwhile films.