Michael Mann’s take on Thomas Harris’ serial killer porn Red Dragon, a novel which introduced the world to Hannibal Lecter (or Lecktor here, played with great menace by Brian Cox).
William Petersen is brooding and driven as troubled FBI profiler Will Graham. Dennis Farina is gruff and driven as his former boss, Jack Crawford. Tom Noonan is terrifying yet pathetic and gawky as the killer they are hunting, the ‘Tooth Fairy’ (though he sees himself as the ‘Red Dragon’, after a William Blake painting). Kim Greist manages to flesh out Graham’s underwritten wife, Molly. And Stephen Lang is on-the-money as sleazy tabloid hack Freddie Lounds, who gets a little too exclusive in his coverage for his own liking.
I think it works well as a film. It has moments of quiet and stillness, but mostly it hacks on at a pace, which suits the ‘race to identify the killer before he strikes again’ arc. It is shot with thought, which some beautiful framing and movement. Imagination has gone into the lighting and editing. And I think the soundtrack works well (though the LLF disagrees profoundly on this).
Brett Ratner’s slightly pointless rehash of the same material covered in Manhunter. Well, not that pointless; it puts more effort into explaining more about who Francis Dolarhyde – the Red Dragon (played here by Ralph Fiennes) – is than its predecessor (as the LLF pointed out). It also reveals in its prologue exactly why Will Graham left the Bureau in the first place, thanks to his original encounter with Dr Lecter.
But it feels less of a whole. It feels perfunctory. It feels overworked, and artless. It feels like a film, without provoking in its audience any suspension of disbelief or immersion into fantasy. The pace is off, and it all feels like an excuse for Anthony Hopkins to ham it up again. And for a movie based around a murder hunt, it all feels a little un-urgent.
Edward Norton doesn’t really match William Petersen’s performance as Will Graham; he’s not bad, he just doesn’t seem to carry off a sense of empathetic understanding as did Petersen. Harvey Keitel serves up a paycheque performance as Crawford.
I’m rereading Robert Harris’ alternate history novel Fatherland at the moment, which reminded me of an HBO telemovie of the book which I had seen years ago. I remembered it being rather good.
I remembered wrong. Rutger Hauer is sort of okay as weary Kripo investigator Xavier March, investigating suspicious deaths of various ageing Nazi bigwigs in a 60s Berlin readying itself for the 75th birthday of its victorious Führer. But Miranda Richardson as a young American journalist? Iffy digital matte renditions of Speer’s finally realised ‘world capital’ Berlin? The plot reduced to a straightforward police procedural, stripped of most of its specfic interest and uncomfortable ambiguities?
I think not. I’ll put it down to false memory syndrome. (FFS, I even gave it an 8/10 on IMDb :O ).
The Wild Bunch
Peckinpah’s classic end days Western. Unfortunately the copy I watched stopped about an hour before the end 😦