Red Dragon succeeds in being the most entertaining of the Hannibal Lecter trilogy. This doesn't make it the best film.
I would venture to say it is the worst... not to say that it is bad, but Hannibal was a wonderful black comedy (which most wouldn't agree with) and Silence of the Lambs was an excellent thriller (which most people would agree with).
When Clarice shows up at a certain person's doorstep, it was largely unexpected. In Red Dragon the final showdown arrives with the subtlety you would expect from a broad comedy director: Brett Ratner, who also directed the schmaltzfest Family Man (different enough, to his credit, but certainly not subtle) and the Rush Hour films (which I have not seen, but have entertained many).
To point to one thing, it's not a good film because Hannibal Lecter is more of a cartoon character here than he was in Hannibal. However, it is wildly enjoyable, regardless.
Thus I give it my highest visceral movie recommendation. I give it two film points for having the courage to show the violence that was inherent in the story, but not so much where it was gratuitous (and hell, Hannibal was very guilty of that, regardless of its other merits).
Enjoy its parade of A-List talent, even as their involvement is almost totally unnecessary. I loved Harvey Keitel in this movie. He plays a damn FBI chief, and that is all there is to it, but goddamn, I like Harvey Keitel. I like Phillip Seymour Hoffman too. I like em' all. Ratner did get a good cast, and an excellent crew... the cinematography was gorgeous, the score was perfect (you have redeemed yourself, Mr. Elfman), the editing was crisp and keeps things going, going, going for a solid two hours.
The only discovery I felt was seeing Ralph Fiennes become so very small as Francis Dolarhyde. My favorite small part in the movie was the Bald Black Dude Who Always Is A Cop. Even the small parts get the best of their type!
Anyway, if you even have a mild interest in seeing it you will probably love it. If you are of the nitpicky sort, you may dislike it for not being as good of a "film" as Manhunter. That's it.
Read movieman's review here!