The actors’ interpretation hasn’t lost its edge throughout the series. This time, many familiar characters are evoked but remain underdeveloped. Their presence is vaguely justified but they don’t contribute in any way at building up the story, which seals the trilogy in an awkward fashion. Without Hannibal Lecter escaping, it is easy to consider the absence of crude violence. The murderer kills his victims with a pistol but mutilate the cadavers to finish his work. He believes he is in direct union with a mystic red dragon that incessantly grows within him.
For an intelligent and wise being, Dr. Lecter discharges his knowledge too easily. When he confided in Clarice Starling, his weakness was camouflaged by an agile romantic complicity that is not found here. The conversations are cold, brief and while the film’s intrigue is the prequel to the Silence of the Lambs, it sometimes becomes a discolored copy of it.
Two culminating aspects deserve to be applauded. First of all, the human aspect of the assassin is explored by a credible love relationship with a blind woman. Out of context, this particular attention greatly slows down the film but it is exactly because of this kind of detail that we recognize a certain estheticism in Red Dragon. Then, there is an exploration of folly. The killer isn’t equipped with supreme intelligence. He acts instinctively but is so unpredictable that he becomes virtually unreachable.
To add to the ornament, we are shown that even a good killer has flaws and learns from experience. This parenthesis finally kills off the image of the perfect prolific killer and opens new horizons. Sadly, these horizons would require over two hours to scrutinize.
This addition to the series ressembles more Along Came a Spider than its successors. Hannibal Lecter remains more passive than in Silence of the Lambs because we concentrate on the clues, the leads and on the individuals that are Will Graham, his family and the red dragon. While psychology, guessing games and metaphors lead Clarice Starling’s investigation in the Silence of the Lambs, the new formula is less effective.