Red Dragon

Brett Ratner's Red Dragon — as opposed to Michael Mann's 1986 Manhunter, which is based on the same novel — delivers the goods in scary fun. It's minus the originality and inspiration, of course, but since when have recycled thrills ever hurt the box office?

Mann minimized the character of Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter (Brian Cox), mistake rectified by Jonathan Demme in 1991's The Silence of the Lambs, which won new Hannibal Anthony Hopkins an Oscar. Hopkins chowed down again in Ridley Scott's 2001 Hannibal, an even bigger hit. Thomas Harris wrote only three Hannibal novels, hence the decision to remake the first, rehire Hopkins (his gut sucked in to play his younger self) and hit pay dirt.

It will. No way is Ratner (The Family Man, Rush Hour) in the same league with Mann, Demme and Scott. But his impersonal efficiency fits the bill. A top cast, including Edward Norton as a fed and Ralph Fiennes as a serial killer, oins Hopkins in savoring the juice in Ted Tally's script. Still, Red Dragon uffers from franchise fatigue. Its rote suspense is strictly a business roposition.

From The Archives Issue 908: October 31, 2002