Hannibal Review

May 31, 2001 | 9:14am EDT

It's been 10 years since America's favorite maneater got away in "Silence of the Lambs" - now we get to see what he has been up to a decade later. In this third installment of author Thomas Harris' Hannibal Lecter trilogy our antihero is living comfortably in Florence Italy as an art scholar. Mason Verger Hannibal's one surviving victim and archenemy is determined to track him down - he wants revenge and will pay any amount to get it. When Hannibal gets wind about a bounty on his head he hightails it back to the states to contact old chum FBI agent Clarice Starling. Starling meanwhile has been suspended for duty over a questionable police shooting by a corrupt Justice Dept. superior who resents her success. The big question was whether or not Julianne Moore could replace Jodie Foster as Clarice in "Silence of the Lambs " and she does quite effectively. Although perhaps any actress could have fit the bill - Clarice is made a secondary character used as a pawn by everyone else. Once again Anthony Hopkins is outstanding as the villain combining cunning intelligence and wicked cruelty with a barely contained glee without venturing into camp. Gary Oldman in an unbilled performance is unrecognizable in horrific deforming makeup -- you're too busy wondering how he manages to talk with no lips to pay attention to what he's saying. This film is really gory and may cause even the heartiest moviegoers to gag especially during the film's appalling final scene when Hannibal serves up a little revenge to the FBI. Director Ridley Scott had sizeable shoes to fill after Jonathan Demme's haunting masterpiece of a decade ago but he pulls it off by delving deep into the characters' psyches. Compelling dark imagery helps flesh out the killer's nature too; gloomy interiors backlit by whitish light filtered through a window rain outside -- even the score conveys Hannibal's intelligent madness as sad ethereal strains of opera waft behind gruesome shocking ugliness.

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