Reviewbr> “Dear Clarice, I have followed with enthusiasm the course of your disgrace and public shaming. My own never bothered me, except for the inconvenience of being incarcerated. But you may lack perspective.” – Hannibal Lecter.
Hannibal Lecter has been hiding out in Venice as a museum curator, or at least has been trying to get the job in every fashion possible. He comes to the attention of local police detective Rinaldo, who has his own agenda involving $3 million in reward money. Lecter is wanted by the FBI, but also by a former victim, the paedophile Mason Verger. Some tough love shown there as Hannibal talked his former patient into disfiguring himself in an attempt to show Verger the error of his ways.
FBI agent Clarice Starling has her own troubles. An attempt to take a drugs dealer into custody goes completely wrong, leading to the deaths of a couple of other FBI agents, and Clarice is left holding the baby for that in more ways than one. Disgraced, with a few colleagues out to score points via her demise, Clarice is left to re-open the Lecter case and an office in the basement. It gets worse for everyone’s favourite FBI agent (well, after Scully), but at least she has someone in her corner ready to take action, with some garnish.
Okay, that’s got the plot covered, and an engrossing movie ensues. Ready to sauté some choice morsels?
The third movie in the somewhat obtuse Hannibal franchise has a hard act to follow: mid movie Silence of the Lambs wowed the Academy and was a break-out hit for all involved, so how on Earth do you try to match that? According to Hollywood, you bring in one of the great Directors, and pray Anthony Hopkins has a few free weeks up his sleeve to reprise the role that landmarked the dude in the minds of both horror and thriller fans. Does Hannibal match its stable-mate? Your call on that, but we do get one hell of a good film regardless.
There was some dispute over the previous film in regards to whether or not it could be coined a horror outing; for heaven’s sake, it won Oscars, ergo it can’t possibly be a horror movie as since when did that genre produce serious stuff? Ridley Scott wastes no time in saying yes Hannibal is a horror movie, and hey I’m hoping to make people squirm. While doing so he steps up to the plate and delivers one hell of an effective atmospheric flick. Hannibal is a Scott movie and as such isn’t by the numbers; Hollywood suits must have been despondent when they saw the rushes of this bad boy.
Director Scott opens the movie with some simple white on black credits, while a couple of people are discussing Hannibal and Clarice. He gradually enlarges a cut screen to good impact with the introduction of the character Mason Verger. The dude is seriously disfigured, and as we discover this is due to being a former patient of one Dr Lecter. For no apparent reason, Scott then cuts to further credits and in a remarkably strange change of pace is almost too clever for his own good. We get some black and white stills, fast forwards, and reversals as Scott plays out his required credits. The whole thing cumulates in one of the most striking screen images I have seen in a long time, when Hannibal’s face is formed by a flock of pigeons in a Venetian open space. Having made the desired impact, Scott then unfolds a film which is both striking in terms of how well it’s shot, and a complete shocker for what the intended audience may have expected.
Ridley Scott is all over this very serious entry in the Hannibal cycle; he goes with some nice slow mo on occasion, grand shots using the locations perfectly, and everything is framed to perfection. The Director has his beat happening, and although slow for some viewers at stages, Scott keeps it together throughout. Highlights include an FBI/police shoot-out with a drug gang – Ronny Yu would have been proud of that one – and a number of scenes which shake hands with tension and invite it inside for a meal of fava beans. I don’t think anyone is going to find fault with the Director in this film, and once again Ridley proves why he’s one of the best in the business.
The script by Messrs Marnet and Zaillian is well above average. Things are tied together, rounded out, and presented with no obvious plot holes clouding the situation. A subplot involving avarice, hanging, and self-destruction goes a long way to making Hannibal an engrossing experience. The writers dropped the romantic angle from Harris’s source novel, but do hint at it in the extraordinary relationship between Hannibal and Clarice. There’s certainly some mutual attraction coming out, though this is subverted by Clarice’s dedication to the FBI (check her final statement) and Hannibal’s culinary explorations – chilling final scene in terms of the “last supper” framework. Marnet and Zaillian are up to the task here, and match the power brought to previous franchise outing Silence of the Lambs.
Ridley Scott produces one hell of a thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat as the screws are tightened
I would be amiss if I didn’t highlight the gore shown in this film. Ridley Scott goes beyond the franchise’s boundaries with a couple of scenes, most notably the “last supper” one. The movie will at stages have the audience looking away, as Scott doesn’t pull any punches with what he is showing. Eli Roth take note, gore only works if it’s used lightly and if the characters are primed for it. Caregivers may want to scratch this movie off teen viewing lists due to this aspect.
One of the interesting elements to the movie was the religious aspect. Clarice can handle Mason Verger’s face but changes the subject when he mentions religion. On the face of things, no pun intended, Verger may have redeemed himself by finding God – “I have immunity from the Justice Department, and I have immunity from the Risen Jesus. And nobody beats the Riz!” – but if his subsequent actions are a showcase for born again Christians then give me that old time paganism. Both the Writers and Director slyly have a dig at Christian fundamental values with Verger, and no doubt hit their targets accordingly. I get the general impression that a lot of people who attack Hannibal do so due to this aspect of the movie infringing on their sensabilities
Once again with Hannibal, the audience will be left in a quandary over whom they should be siding with, a staple of the whole franchise. Clearly Agent Starling is the most sympathetic character, but Dr Lecter does make his own case for audience approval. Is Hannibal driven by the actions of others, or is he simply a psychopath with good taste? Ridley Scott leaves it to the viewers to make their own minds up.
Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal) reprises perhaps his best-known role, and delivers a chilling and excellent performance as the charismatic doctor of doom. No one else can do Hannibal the Cannibal like Hopkins, and the dude had me applauding from go to whoa here. Julianne Moore (Clarice Starling) had some pretty big shoes to fill, and she freaking nails it. It might be viewed as blasphemy in some quarters, but going out on a limb here, I preferred Moore to Jodie Foster’s handling of the role. Gary Oldman (Mason Verger) was a hoot and got some decent lines. Oldman eats these roles for breakfast, and matched the top-billers scene by scene. Giancarlo Giannini (Detective Rinaldo) was also holding his own, and I was digging the dramatic and slightly unethical character. Would like to see Giannini in a much meatier role sometime in the future.
T&A is not large on the agenda, but guys get Moore in one hell of a sexy dress. I would suggest going out and getting one for your better half. The gals get, well, I guess they are used to being short changed by now.
The score was delivered by a whole host of composers and ranges from classical to almost operatic in parts. Both striking and dramatic, it perfectly fitted director Scott’s mood and the outstanding cinematography by John Mathieson. For purists we also get some Bach and a touch of Strauss in the mix. Before I forget, we also get one rap number, which is strikingly used as a counterbalance during the film’s sole full-on action scene, and the quieter build of other scenes. Stunning work all round, worth an investment in the CD.
I originally had no intentions of catching Hannibal because it simply seemed like yet another Boredwood sequel attempting to cash in on a previous movie’s success. I went and saw Hannibal Rising last week, had a mixed time, so decided I should really check the other titles in the franchise. Was very pleased that I did; Hannibal matches the power and movie art of Silence of the Lambs, albeit with extra doses of gore in a couple of scenes. Hopkins is mesmerising as Hannibal, and Moore had me applauding. I had some fun times as the film progressed, and got more return than my investment. Very underrated, deserves a lot more attention.
Hannibal carved up $351,692,268 million (USD) at the box office, with North American domestic of $165,092,268. Coming off a budget of $87 million that’s clearly a huge win for MG, who need to make most posts a winner.
The outdoor opera, Dante's "La vita nuova", was specially composed by Patrick Cassidy for the movie and forms part of a complete opera. In an interesting nod to Harris’s novel “Silence of the Lambs”, Hannibal Lecter’s assumed name of Dr Fell reflects Fell Street, where J. Gump, a.k.a. Buffalo Bill, lived. Okay, enough of the trivia, Precious.
If you enjoyed Silence of the Lambs, then Hannibal is a must-see movie, but be warned that it does contain graphic gore in a couple of scenes. A superb film intended for an adult audience, this one goes to show what a decent Director, backed by a good script and A-list actors, can achieve. Decant yourself some Chianti and dig on in, Hannibal will make the meal an arresting one.