Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Red Dragon

MPAA Rating: R for violence, grisly images, language, some nudity and sexuality

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rothgeb

Very Offensive
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Thriller Drama
2 hr. 6 min.
Year of Release:
Red Dragon poster
Relevant Issues

dragons in the Bible

sin and the fall of man into depravity

goodness and righteousness

Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
Is Jesus Christ the answer to your questions?
Discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Discover God’s promise for all people—told beautifully and clearly from the beginning. Discover The HOPE! Watch it on-line, full-length motion picture.
God’s Story Online home
Do you understand God’s Story? Take a multimedia journey through the Bible, from Creation to eternity. Hear and read an exciting summary of the Bible’s most important records, in chronological order.

Will all mankind eventually be saved? Answer

Do Not Enter

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harvey Keitel | Directed by: Brett Ratner | Produced by: Ridley Scott, Dino De Laurentiis, Martha De Laurentiis | Written by: Ted Tally | Distributor: Universal Pictures

“To understand the origin of evil you must go back to the beginning.”

For some years now I’ve been quite the fan of mystery novels. I grew up reading “Sherlock Holmes” and Agatha Christy novels and lately have enjoyed reading the forensic type mysteries by authors such as Patricia Cornwell and Tami Hoag. The disturbing aspect of the more contemporary novels is that they have become quite dark, concentrating on the psychotic and macabre. The movie “Red Dragon” has picked up on this popular theme.

“Red Dragon” is the prequel to “Silence of the Lambs” and follows the other blockbuster “Hannibal”. This is actually the second making of this film, the first being “Manhunter” (1986) starring Brian Cox as Hannibal. With the overpowering popularity of Anthony Hopkins in “Silence of the Lambs” and “Hannibal” playing the part of Dr. Hannibal Lector it seemed prudent to the powers that be that they should remake the film using Mr. Hopkins. The re-make certainly does justice to the original, out performing it in both acting and film quality, though it does bring with it a more grisly flavor.

Anthony Hopkins in “Red Dragon”

The film takes us back to the introduction of Dr. Hannibal Lector only briefly to introduce us to the main character, FBI agent Will Graham (Edward Norton). We discover the somewhat special ability that agent Graham has to get into a suspect’s head and create an accurate profile that helps him catch Hannibal. Although Hannibal is apprehended, it leaves agent Graham with both physical and emotional scars that force him out of the bureau. The film does a great job of re-creating this sequence of events, bringing those who may be unfamiliar with the other two pictures up to speed. What follows is a very suspenseful ride through the mind of both a psychotic killer and an FBI agent who reluctantly agrees to help on this new case. The writers do a fantastic job of getting the viewer involved in the thought processes of these characters as well. We are shown not just the darkness of a killer but the obsessions of the police who are consumed with finding him.

Many fans of this series, including myself, were disappointed with “Hannibal” which substituted gore for good screen writing. In “Red Dragon”, I’m happy to say that the writing is compelling! “Silence of the Lambs” has returned. The film, though dark, is not weighed down with bad language and gore. There is one brief female topless shot and many shots of a man’s rear-end. There is some vulgar language and uses of the Lord’s name in vain, but most of the blood scenes are handled with some reserve with none of what I call “open anatomy shots.”

I do caution you though—and very reluctantly recommend this movie (for it is not for the faint of heart). I started this review with saying how modern day mysteries have become submersed in the macabre and so too have contemporary mystery films. They are no longer satisfied with writing a good who-done-it but feel compelled to flood our senses with images of blood and explorations into the dark, satanic minds of murders. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that the devil is a lion that walks about looking for who he can devour. We know that for Christians this world is not our home and that there is great evil that prowls this globe, but God tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to cast down those things which seek to reign above God and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. I don’t think I need to see every psychotic, dark crevice of a man’s soul to know that he is inherently evil. This film has great writing, good characterization, and a formidable plot, but be sure it is very deserving of its R-rating.

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—Few movies live up to the books that inspired them… this one does, and it does it well. I was disappointed that the writers didn’t include a major theme of the book: that studying evil too closely can cause one to become evil in turn. I’ve noticed that the author’s ideas have degenerated with each writing. I don’t think its any accident that the third storyline (Hannibal) was much bloodier and hopeless than the first (Red Dragon), which has a definite protagonist and the triumph of good over evil.

As in “Schindler’s List,” Ralph Fiennes once again delivered a character that is both man and monster. Going into the movie, I didn’t expect to feel pity for Dolarhyde, but I was very moved by Mr. Fiennes’ portrayal of a man both obsessed with and tormented by his psychotic need to murder. Anthony Hopkins’ latest performance was good, but rough in spots. At times, it seemed he became a caricature of the Hannibal Lecter of the first movie.

I’m not sure I would have cast Edward Norton as Will Graham, but he acquitted himself well. The blood and gore were toned down a lot, which I appreciate, as they really aren’t necessary to the theme of the movie. (The same scenes, in the book, are much more disturbing.) The language fits the rating, and the sexual content is fairly benign.

I would recommend this movie to adults, but it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. I would consider it a film a mature Christian can watch in good conscience.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Cathy, age 32
Positive—In this world today, we are aware that there are many good things that we all enjoy. However, Dr. Hannibal Letcher is the reason why there are terrible things in this world. As Christians, and humaninty, we need to realize that the world is not always a wonderful VeggieTales sunshine universe. I believe that all Christians that are strong enough to watch this should watch the “Red Dragon” and “Silence of the Lambs.” Christians need to realize that there are sick people in the world that do not care about your faith or what happens with their actions. And these Hannibal Lecther, whose character was made from Jeffery Dalmer, William Coyne and several other serial killers from the FBI’s profile archives which Thomas Harris research.
My Ratings: [5]
—Andrew, age 18
Positive—If you liked “Silence…” and “Hannibal…” you’ll love this one. The story is somewhat predictable with a few interesting twists that make the story worth the time. Although I attempt to never purposefully presume on Hollywood, they do seem to acknowledge a Luciferian figure, although exactly whom the murderer addresses in his private moments is difficult to determine since we are never really told; who the Red Dragon is is never made clear.

While one could, at first thought, disdain the murderer, I believe he touches the emotional scars we each bare in an austere sort of way. The power that one who puts himself in this position, might sickly sense could probably become addictive.

On further analysis we might also speculate a similar process by which world leaders tender to loose touch with the common people while ironically being called public servants. The sick mind of the murderer sees himself as “helping” those he kills. I suppose, as a Christian, I’m struck most deeply by the fact that not even a Lector or this “disciple” of his are beyond the grace of God, if they are repentant. When you are god, even in this limited way, true submission to The God is all the more difficult.

However, when I see my own sin as every bit as horrible as this man’s, even if the acts themselves do not appear “bad” to the humanist mind but are “legally” every bit as binding is God’s system of judgment, I’m given a renewed sense of where God’s true forgiveness though Jesus Christ has placed me. Discussion of this film with an unsaved associate could be used as a stepping stone to a witnessing opportunity.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
—Bob C, age 38
Positive—…The movie is full of great scenes, and not just from Hoffman and Norton. All of the acting is absolute top notch, especially Fiennes, who manages to draw a fantastic amount of sympathy for his deranged killer. Seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?

These actors are all great, and the screenplay really allows them to make a lot of good choices with their roles. Keitel has the least to work with, but he is still effective, perhaps only because he is Harvey Keitel. Now, the content of “Red Dragon.”

I can happily report that this does not recycle the kind of overly disgusting violence of “Hannibal.” But that is not to say it isn’t violent at all. We see numerous pictures of dead bodies in crime scene photos There is also some first hand violence, but it wasn’t misused I didn’t think. I thought it was handled tactfully, as it was in “The Silence of the Lambs.” more »
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Jason Eaken, age 19
Positive—Jonathan hit it right on the mark with this review! I loved “Silence of the Lambs” and was disappointed in the SHOCK value strived in “Hannibal.” “Red Dragon” was an enjoyable movie with disturbing scenes, but done tastefully in comparison to its predecessor. I recommend it to anyone mature enough to handle it… but I guess it takes the lack of maturity from a Christian perspective to want to see a movie like this anyways.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
—Carey Couvillon, age 28
Positive—I expected this film to be at least decent, but it was way better than I expected! The violence was only over-the-top in a few scenes, and even then it wasn’t exploitative. It’s a good story of good winning over evil. Were it not for the sexual content, I’d give it a morality rating of better-than-average. There is not much sexual content, but unfortunately we see a woman’s breasts for a split second and also a glimpse of a silhouette of a man’s member. There are also numerous shots of a guy’s bare hiney. Since these aren’t key, though; so with these reservations, I still recommend the movie. The reason I gave it only 3.5 out of 5 stars for production quality is there are a few mysteries that remain unexplained at the end, and are left for the viewers to figure out on their own.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Gabriel Mohler, age 25 (USA)
Neutral—I rushed to see this film, the day after it opened hoping to be encased in awe with a brilliant story. “Silence of the Lambs” was a terrific movie (Hannibal not so much so) and the rumours were this film would meet up to Silence of the Lambs standards.

I must say, the first three-fourths of the movie, is fantastic, the story is well done, it challenges you into taking the role of the detective and delving deep into the mind of a serial-killer to find who his next victims will be. The killer himself is well portrayed, and I liked how the “Red Dragon” was taken from revelations (anything biblical, no matter how perverted always interests me).

But the thing that totally discredited this movie for me was the fact the film makers forgot to tie all the loose ends. I felt that numerous of important details were left out, which are important to help the movie flow, and to give the viewer a sense of satisfaction. The movie never mentions why he choses to be the Red Dragon, or how he even learned of it, or why he choses to do some of the things he does. In order to have been a successful film, I feel these explicit details were needed and furthermore the ending broke my heart, because it just ended to fast. Very little suspense to look forward too.

All in all, the beginning of this film is terrific, and the story line is very intriguing, but it looks like the american consumer is once again subject to watch a substandard product all in the hopes of getting a quick release date and making a lot of money faster. For this fact, this movie (and many others) disappoint me greatly.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 5]
—Blake High, age 18
Movie Critics
…Blood and gore flow freely, especially in photos of the crime scenes. While the dialogue is peppered with objectionable words, images of violence and bloody wounds overshadow the language…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review