A film review by ALEX GRANT
never captures the sweep and scale of Harrisnovel
craft of the casting agent has yet to receive its due from The Academy
of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
There is still no Oscar to be won for the work entailed in fitting
actor to the role. It can be a crucial element in the success of
- finding the right face and figure for each role.
RED DRAGON, already filmed in 1986 as MANHUNTER by Michael Mann,
is adapted from the first Dr.Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter
novel by Thomas Harris.
The first filmisation
proved to be a mesmerizing forensic melodrama the prelude to THE SILENCE
OF THE LAMBS [ 1990]. Brett Ratners remake flounders due to its
every major role being horribly miscast.
As seasoned empathetic FBI Special Agent Will Graham actor
Edward Norton is a baby-faced lightweight devoid of gravity.
As demented recluse and psychotic Francis Dolarhyde Ralph
Fiennes is far too Anglo-Saxon and wavers loonily between macho body-builder
and wimpy Mamas Boy.
As Wills saturnine and wily FBI boss Harvey Keitel is too familiar
a face and too mannered to play a dull, obstinate bureaucrat of the
As Francis blind co-worker at the Chromolux photo lab Emily Watson
is much too the cutie-pie innocent and Barbie Doll. AND as the anthropophagous
psychiatrist Lecter Sir Anthony Hopkins as much too long in the tooth,
supposedly 22 years ago a mad murderer in his prime
every year of his 65 years and is far too raddled,creased, and careworn.
BUT without Hopkins consenting to essay the effete epicure for a third
time MANHUNTER would never have been remade at all.
If only ! We could have retained our good, apposite memories of William
C. Petersen, Tom Noonan, Dennis Farina, Joan Allen, and Brian Cox each
one superb in the respective roles listed above.
Solely the unctuous, clammy asylum superintendent Dr.Chilton
[Anthony Heald] is fast-forwarded from THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and
even he slices the meaty ham with a clumsy cleaver.
Simply put, MANHUNTER need never have been resaddled and trotted out
again. The Michael Mann film is a pastel-hued truly portentous time-capsule
of good breeding from an era when the serial killer was a new sociosexual
phenomenon. Two decades later he is passé.
RED DRAGON never captures the sweep and scale of Harrisnovel nor
the subtle suspense of the Michael Mann version. It is a purely perfunctory
"product" off the assembly -line owing much to Alfred Hitchcocks
masterly PSYCHO and the ultimate Mamas Boy Norman Bates.
The image of The Bates Motel, Harris creation Francis Dolarhyde,
deserves a far better personification than Ralph Fiennes slumming
as a tattooed musclebound misfit gone berserker. One can only hope and
pray that Ralph has no longer mislaid his acting chops in David Cronenbergs
© Alex Grant October 2002
Manns RHD [Robbery Homicide Division]
21 St Vancouver
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