Hannibal Lector is a character that has seeped his way into becoming one of the most iconic popular culture characters to date. His introduction in Manhunter was a first, where Michael Mann created one of the most psychotic characters we’d seen in cinema. However, it wasn’t until The Silence of the Lambs that this character truly terrified audiences with Sir Anthony Hopkins’ horrifying portrayal of the man-eating cannibalistic serial killer who was also somewhat of an eccentric figure.
This psychologist turned serial killer received some incredibly devious arcs throughout many films. However, when we finally got to see him in action as the ultimate bad guy, the experience turned out to be a bit underwhelming.
How to Stream or Download Hannibal (2001)
You can stream it or you can download Hannibal from a digital store. Click on the Download button at the end of the review. And if you like Ridley Scotts movies, check out also Alien (1979), Gladiator (2000), The Martian (2015), or House of Gucci (2021).
The Movie Review
The story follows years after the events of The Silence of the Lambs, as Clarice Starling is now a fully-fledged FBI Agent with a career in catching psychopathic criminals. However, it’s also been years since Hannibal Lector has been out of police custody, and has been wreaking havoc god knows where. The true terror begins when one of his previous victims, Mason Verger creates an elaborate plan that would result in Hannibal coming to light.
Verger’s plans were a bit more treacherous even, going so far as to seek his vengeance that the authorities could never give him. This revenge narrative strings ties that bring Clarice back into action against Hannibal, resulting in some absolutely chaotic things that follow.
It was weird that Ridley Scott saw an interest in directing this film as it wasn’t anything like he had done before. Most of the time when someone sees a Ridley Scott film, they can’t identify it because the man has dipped his hands into every genre imaginable. The same can be said for Hannibal, which is one of the few Hannibal Lector films that don’t have a distinctive touch to them.
For example, Silence of the Lambs was very clearly a Jonathan Demme film, while Manhunter was quite clearly a Michael Mann film. Hannibal seems to not have an identity and tries to do what the rest did in a more unique way and artistic way.
While that does result in some absolutely fantastic cinematography and some genuine ‘WTF’ moments, it really does make the film a lackluster endeavor in comparison because Hannibal is on the loose for so long and no does anything about it. The thing that makes the film so bland in comparison though is the pacing, for a neo-noir thriller film, this had barely any noir elements to it.
It was cookie-cutter detective work at the hands of Clarice Starling, while bits and pieces of information were provided instead of a cohesive narrative that has all of them interwoven.
The performances though are absolutely spectacular. The film is chock-full of incredibly talented actors, from Sir Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, and Ray Liotta to Gary Oldman and Frankie Faison and Francesca Neri.
Sir Anthony Hopkins is by far the highlight of the film, as he takes control of every single scene he’s a part of. Julianne Moore is a fantastic Clarice Starling, bringing that same naivety yet quick wit that Jodie Foster did in Silence of the Lambs. However, the standout here is definitely Gary Oldman as Mason Verger. His deformed appearance combined with Oldman’s ability to vanish into every role he takes is something of a miracle worker moment for all of his fans, and it is so much more prevalent here than in most of his work.
The cinematography also sees an increased value in production. Silence of the Lambs featured some fantastic camera angles and visual storytelling, while the visual storytelling might not be the strongest part of this film, it does have the aesthetic required to make Hannibal FEEL like a threat unlike any other.
Combine that with the horrifying score that Hans Zimmer has created here, and you have a recipe for aesthetic and atmospheric success.
I truly wanted to like this film, if not for Gary Oldman or Sir Anthony Hopkins, then for the legacy of a character so horrific and beloved as Hannibal Lecter. Yet what I ended with was a bit of confusion, a huge feeling of underwhelming that I didn’t expect.
The film did have some absolutely mind-blowing moments, in particular a specific dinner scene that really irked me. Though aside from that, I can’t recall much that I saw in my most recent viewing a few days ago, and that is kind of heartbreaking when it comes to an Anthony Hopkins film.