Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Manhunter/Red Dragon

Two families are brutally massacred with identical modus operandi exactly a month apart from each other. This gives FBI profiler Will Graham no more than the course of one moon cycle to consult with imprisoned diabolical psychopath Hannibal Lecter and capture the media dubbed Tooth Fairy before he claims his next victims. Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon has been adapted twice for the big screen, first by Michael Mann in 1986 as Manhunter and than as a prequel to Silence of the Lambs by the classic's Oscar winning penner Ted Tally in a Brett Ratner rendition. Mann's version is done in his cheesed out 1980s Miami Vice style, is aided by his visual flourishes, hampered by an insufferable soundtrack, and is very effective until it loses steam midway and somewhat collapses during its uninspired concluding shootout. William Peterson as Graham and Tom Noonan as the killer are unconvincing while Dennis Farina as a senior FBI agent and Brian Cox as Lecter (if you can get past Anthony Hopkins portrayal) are strong. 
Ratner's followup to Lambs is unnecessary and mostly does not do justice to its predecessor, except for scenes involving Ralph Fiennes as the killer trying to go straight while wooing a sweet natured blind woman played by Emily Watson, whose moments together are eerily moving. Ed Norton is surprisingly bland in the lead role, as are Harvey Keitel and Philip Seymour Hoffman (who star as the senior agent character and a snarky reporter, respectively) and Hopkins is extremely overcooked in an attempt to savor his return to his legendary character.