Thomas Harris’ 1981 novel of the same title first introduced the world to forensic psychiatrist-turned-serial-killer Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter. This second screen version of the book (the first was Michael Mann’s horrifying Manhunter
) also follows two other films based on Lecter novels. It is not quite as drop-dead shocking as Silence of the Lambs
but avoids the caricature, compromise and thematic elephantiasis of Hannibal
. The story begins as FBI agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) arrests Lecter (Anthony Hopkins, baiting us again with every word) for his criminal appetite. Then, the story leaps several years ahead as Graham comes out of retirement to ask Lecter to assist in solving the grisly, ritualistic murders committed by a suspect known as the Tooth Fairy. Director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour
) and Oscar-winning Lambs
screenwriter Ted Tally give us plenty to fret and squirm about in a story about unholy pacts and one agent’s ability to feel rather than deduce his way into the heart of unspeakable crimes.