It's your classic ""I'll get me coat"" situation. You're with a bunch of cine-literate peers, discussing the relative merits of different Hannibal Lecter films, and then you blurt out: "I enjoyed Red Dragon far more than Manhunter..."
Well, don't feel too bad, because a few members of the Total Film team agree with you. Michael Mann's 1986 adap of Thomas Harris' first Lecter `adventure' may ooze with style, but it's horribly dated. Which makes Red Dragon a welcome update, even if Tony Hopkins' third helping of Hannibal does come with a generous side order of ham.
Edward Norton makes an intriguing Lecter-nemesis as troubled G-man Will Graham, but it's Ralph Fiennes and Emily Watson who really impress. Fiennes' family-slaughtering nutjob elicits both terror and sympathy, while Watson, playing his frail-but-feisty blind belle, is perfect as the source of most of the vicarious thrills.
Kudos too to Rush Hour helmer Brett Ratner. Sure, he lacks Mann's flair, but he ratchets up the tension with impressive efficiency. Believe us, there's no shortage of grab-the-cushion moments here.