With Manhunter we had to deal with someone else playing the role of Dr. Lecter. At least that movie came before The Silence of the Lambs, so the debate happened years after. This time we have to deal with Agent Staring being recast and Julianne Moore (The Hours, Magnolia) taking on the Jodie Foster role. This time it happened after the original Oscar-winning turn. It was bound to be difficult to win people over. Even if you are as talented as Julianne Moore. I think Moore does a good job and it is really the script that let everyone down.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins – Thor, The Rite), the cannibalistic serial killer who has escaped prison, is now living in Italy and working as a museum curator. Somehow the twisted flesh eater has managed to keep a low profile and carry on his ways.
Meanwhile, back in the USA, FBI Agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) is being raked over the coals due to Lecter’s escape as she was in charge of the operation. Her case is not aided by the fact that a high ranking member of the FBI, Paul Krendler (Ray Liotta – Goodfellas, Smokin’ Aces), has it out for her. The only thing that saves her is that a Lecter victim, Mason Verger (Gary Oldman – The Professional, The Dark Knight), wants to use Starling in order to lure Lecter out.
Lecter sends Starling a note indicating that he is in Italy and so she asks local police to be on the lookout for him. Unfortunately greed gets the best of the Italian police and in an effort to try and get the reward money that Verger has offered, Lecter ends up slipping through their fingers.
Frustrated that he has not been able to have Starling fired, Krendler frames her for something, which draws Lecter back to the USA. The serial killer wants to protect his foe. Once Starling realizes that Lecter is back on home soil the chase begins yet again.
If you have not seen the first film that is probably better as you might not spend the whole time watching this one comparing the two. On its own the film is a decent and entertaining one. It has great shots of Italy, solid acting, gore, and some interesting twists. The problem people had with this film was the expectations for it. They wanted more The Silence of the Lambs. Move on, people!
Anthony Hopkins is once again good as Lecter, but he is a little different. Maybe that is because he is no longer a prisoner and is able to move about fairly freely. He presents a serial killer who is frightening due to his brain power. Lecter is very cerebral. Even though he is disgusting, Hopkins makes him likeable. You find yourself rooting for him despite what he is. Morality twists abound in this story and Hopkins plays them well. His performance is aided by Ridley Scott’s direction and efforts to make the serial killer seem refined and cultured. Even the music score while he is on screen tries to convince the viewer of this.
One scene in Ridley Scott’s (Alien, Black Hawk Down) film that was widely talked about for many reasons was the climax when Lecter does what he does best to Krendler. Though it was pretty fake looking I don’t know one person who wasn’t affected by it. The scene brought about a lot of near hysterics giggling and uncomfortable fidgeting in theatre seats.