Hannibal


Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by:David Mamet, Steven Zaillian
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Giancarlo Giannini, Ray Liotta, Gary Oldman
Released: February 15, 2001
Grade: C+

Even before I saw Hannibal, I knew it had no chance of matching its predecessor, Silence Of The Lambs, which won five Oscars and is one of only three films to win the big four - picture, director, actor and actress (the other two being It Happened One Night in 1934 and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in 1975).  This sequel has been in the works for some time as a result of casting problems.  Jodie Foster turned it down as did original director, Jonathan Demme, who was replaced by Ridley Scott (Gladiator).  This is one of those films that despite the profit it will produce, should never have been made.

Clarice Starling (Moore) has just received a severe reprimand following a botched FBI raid.  In the subsequent whirlwind of media attention, she gets a call from Mason Verger (Oldman), one of Hannibal's former victims who lived to tell the tale.  It has been 10 years since her famous encounter with Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) and Verger provides Clarice with new information and combined with a letter from Dr. Lecter himself, her passion for the case is reignited.

For the film's first hour and a half, we see Clarice in America perusing over evidence trying to pinpoint Dr. Lecter's location.  Meanwhile, an Italian detective has put the pieces together and realised than Dr. Lecter is living in Florence as a librarian and seeks the $3,000,000 reward on offer for his capture.  After receiving word of the detective’s discovery, Clarice warns him to be careful but alas, he is killed (but not before much time wastage).

Dr. Lecter finally heads back to the States to meet with Clarice and it provides the material for the film's final 35 minutes.  The film was somewhat compelling to this point but became a laughing stock as a result of what followed.  I can't give much away but the demise of both Mason Verger and FBI agent Paul Krendler (Liotta) was incredibly stupid and incredibly disgusting.  I didn't want to discuss the ratings debacle that has surrounded the film's Australian release but I have to add my two cents.  Based on these two scenes, I cannot understand how the film escaped with a mere MA rating.  It was never to the point where I would have walked out (as some critics have) but it was clearly in bad taste and the original never went this far.

There's nothing much more to say except to emphasise my severe disappointment with Hannibal.  There were no thrills, no resolutions and no sense behind it all.  Two audience members in front of me said at the very end, "is that it?"  Whilst I wasn't prepared to yell my own opinions, I knew exactly how they felt.