Parents' Guide to

Red Dragon

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Great, but too scary and violent for most teens.

Movie R 2002 124 minutes
Red Dragon Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 13+

Mysterious and nerve racking film has some grisly violence and images

Red Dragon is a crime investigation film about FBI agent Will Graham taking on the case of a cold blooded killer nicknamed “the tooth fairy” who murders innocent families in cold blood. If the description doesn’t already explain enough, the film can be very violent and distressing to watch, so in this review I will be breaking down the nature content in 5 categories: VIOLENCE: A man is stabbed in the stomach, then stabs another man with 3 arrows making him fall back against a table and hurting him. Neither of them die but some blood is still shown along with injury. A man walks through a home where a crime scene took place and describes the murders. Dry blood is still covering the scene despite the bodies being removed. The scene includes description about child murder and putting broken shards of glass into eyes. Crime scene photos are briefly shown of a dead innocent family including children. Bloody and unsettling. A man is knocked out, then glued to a chair completely with absolutely no way to move. The man is then forced to watch disturbing images of a dead family with broken shards of glass put into their eyes along with bullet holes in their heads etc. (these images are very disturbing and bloody) until eventually the man has his tongue ripped out of his mouth then spat onto the floor. The tongue isn’t shown until it is spit out, however the scene is bloody and disturbing as the man screams in agony. 2 women are hit over the head with hard objects and killed (only one is shown) however no blood and the scene is very brief. A man is shot in the forehead with a suppressed pistol, a bullet hole is shown along with some blood spray. 2 people stand in a home, one wielding a shotgun. The other person (who is blind) is shown however the shotgun wielding man is not, and blood splatters on the other persons face suggesting suicide. When the dead body is briefly revealed we see a pile of goo (the mans blasted head). In a fight, a man is thrown up on the wall and slashed on the stomach spraying blood. 2 people shoot each other through a door hitting in both their chests. As they both lay on the floor a woman grabs a pistol and shoots one of the men in the face over and over. This scene shows a lot of bullet wounds and blood spray, and the final part where the man is shot in the face displays a lot of blood. LANGUAGE: Infrequent use of f*ck, sh*t, b*tch, pr*ck and f*ggot along with milder words. SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY: A drawing is shown displaying genitals, bare breasts in the opening titles. A man is shown exposing buttocks frequently throughout the movie as a part of his character and we also briefly see his genitals somewhat obscured through shadows. A woman grabs a mans crotch then puts her head down towards it as the camera zooms away on his face. OVERALL: 13+

This title has:

Too much violence
age 17+

Better than Hannibal, but still lacks the thrills and quirkiness of The Silence of the Lambs

It's an improvement over Hannibal, but it still isn't as great as The Silence of the Lambs! It has more thrills than Hannibal, and the performances are much better in this movie than they were in Hannibal! But it does not quite live up to The Silence of the Lambs! I recommend Red Dragon, it's a near great movie, but not as great as The Silence of the Lambs!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5):
Kids say (8):

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.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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