Great, but too scary and violent for most teens.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie has extreme peril, including a child in danger, and explicit graphic violence. The overall tone of the movie can be deeply disturbing for some audience members and viewers of all ages should carefully consider whether it is appropriate viewing. There are some sexual references and situations.
Mysterious and nerve racking film has some grisly violence and images
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Better than Hannibal, but still lacks the thrills and quirkiness of The Silence of the Lambs
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What's the Story?
Hannibal Lecter is back in RED DRAGON. This time, FBI agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) consults Lecter on a series of murders and then is responsible for his capture, after Lecter tries to kill him. Graham retires from the FBI, but is called back in to consult when another serial killer has murdered two families. Graham visits Lecter in prison to ask for his help tracking down a killer known as "The Tooth Fairy." Unbeknownst to Graham, Lecter is communicating with the killer, who is Francis Dolarhyde (Ralph Fiennes). Meanwhile, Dolarhyde is drawn to his blind coworker Reba (Emily Watson), and he struggles with the demons that tell him to kill and the tender feelings he has for her. Graham must work quickly to uncover the killer's identity, because Dolarhyde's next intended victims are those closest to the FBI agent's heart.
Is It Any Good?
As engrossing as it is to track down the new killer, the real thrill of Red Dragon is the interaction between Graham and Lecter. Norton's character is more of a challenge for Lecter than novice Clarice Starling (from Silence of the Lambs), and the history between them – and some similarities between them – make for some electric moments on screen. At first, the effort to explain Dolarhyde's compulsion seems overly simplistic, but the way it is used in the movie's climax makes it work.
Every single part of Red Dragon is meticulously cast and brilliantly performed. Among many notable appearances, particular standouts are Harvey Keitel and Ken Leung as FBI agents and Philip Seymour Hoffman as a tabloid reporter. But the primary pleasure here is just being so scared that you might forget to breathe.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how this series and the character Hannibal glorifies the idea of serial killers. Families can also talk about Graham's conversation with Reba. How was what he said important to her? If the FBI comes back to Will to ask him to help again, what should he do? Why? Why are people so fascinated with the Hannibal Lecter character?
- In theaters: October 4, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: April 1, 2003
- Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes
- Director: Brett Ratner
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: graphic, intense violence and some nudity
- Last updated: March 11, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate