Hannibal Lecter is one of the most iconic figures in modern cinema never mind the horror genre, with the notorious cannibal starring in five feature-length movies and an acclaimed TV series. While most people are in agreement that Anthony Hopkins is the definitive version of the character, Mads Mikkelsen certainly put himself into the conversation thanks to his role in the short-lived Hannibal, while you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that would name Gaspard Ulliel as their favorite.
The Silence of the Lambs may have shot to instant classic status after doing big business at the box office and scooping the so-called ‘Big Five’ at the Academy Awards by winning Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Adapted Screenplay, but the material hardly screamed franchise potential. However, author Thomas Harris kept writing more books, and the big screen adaptations inevitably followed.
First sequel Hannibal was a solid-if-unspectacular follow-up that sorely missed Jodie Foster, and just a year later the third installment arrived. Despite Hopkins very clearly being well over a decade older than he was in The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon opted to take the prequel route nonetheless with director Brett Ratner managing to deliver a surprisingly effective psychological chiller.
Hopkins could evidently play Hannibal in his sleep at this point, but he still gives a solid performance, backed by a stacked supporting cast that hugely elevates the material including Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Sure, Red Dragon stood little chance of finding any awards season love, but it was nonetheless a minor return to form in the sort of star-powered and glossy thriller that the studios don’t really tend to take a chance on these days, and fans that have already binged Hannibal can check out Red Dragon for their fix of creepy content now that it’s available on Netflix.