Fine Dining or Fast Food?
Review by Ross Anthony

This film realization of the novel by Thomas Harris and sequel to "Silence of the Lambs" opens with a big action movie punch, then settles back into three leisurely paced tales of cat and mouse.

First, there's Clarice Starling (Moore), the FBI agent who nabbed Hannibal the Cannibal in the first film. For some pretty unconvincing Hannibalreasons she's ostracized by the FBI and especially justice Dept. Agent Paul Krendler (Liotta). Anyway, she's disrespectfully placed on the Hannibal Lecter case now that he's at large again. But Clarice isn't the only one biting. Physically and mentally deranged Mason Verger has a bone to pick (or break) with Mr. Lecter as well. Verger is willing to pay big bucks for his vengeance. Thirdly, off in Florence, Italian detective Pazzi decides to try to lick Hannibal himself, in search of earning some self-respect and the handsome reward. Though these stories are linked, they don't feel tightly woven; rather three distinct episodes that fail to coordinate a strong climax.

Though Julianne Moore is a fine actress, she doesn't relate the same kind of fear Jodie Foster portrayed - I never worried about her. Understandably, the character has had time to mature and hardened; however, with Hopkins himself bringing little fright to his role ... the film relies on just a very few moments of visual effects to stir that desired unsettling, disturbing, eerie sense of discern to its viewers. What's left is simply a well-acted B-script.

In fact, because there are now two major weirdoes (Hannibal and Verger), the picture becomes less real and more comicbook-esque.

The picture could have been improved by making it Starling's call to continue the raid during the initial drug-queen bust. That way, the viewer could begin to really worry about her. As is, the FBI's harsh treatment of her feels extremely contrived and unreal; hence, no real sympathy is created for Starling. Secondly, the fingerprint game plays likewise contrived for film drama. After all, Hannibal is carrying a newspaper in his bare hands, and probably pays for it with coins he'd touched. Why the big deal with the wallet? Then later, Pazzi forgets to bring his gun to his big show down. This is no way to win over an audience.

Still, some good lines find a suitable home in the mouth of the salivating Hannibal, "Whenever possible, I prefer to eat the rude." Tastefully interjected, Hopkins tosses in a contrasting "Okie Dokie" to pepper his proper academic intellectualism. Done well too, some of the Florence scenes are beautifully filmed. I also quite enjoyed the tension created in that aptly shot initial action sequence. Lastly, the twisted romance between Hannibal and Starling is considerably appetizing; and definitely enticing at those woefully too few moments when attended to.

In the end, the film is mildly interesting while mildly tedious. Though mouthwateringly awaited, it hasn't much to say.

  • Hannibal. Copyright © 2001. Rated R.
  • Starring Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, Frankie R. Faison, Gary Oldman, Giancarlo Giannini, Francesca Neri.
  • Directed by Ridley Scott.
  • Written by David Mamet & Steven Zaillian
  • Produced by Dino De Laurentiis, Martha De Laurentiis, Ridley Scott At MGM/Universal.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:08:38 PDT