We’ve seen what a sequel could do to a Ridley Scott classic in Aliens (1986) once before, so it’s only right we saw what his idea of a sequel could do to another’s classic. It’s the Hollywood version of ‘what goes around, comes around’ until Weinstein, Cosby, and Spacey upgraded on that notion with their own unsavory spin on ‘paying it forward.’ With The Silence of The Lambs, being deemed ‘rewatchable’ can, for some, reasonably conflate it with being a classic. I am not here to argue otherwise despite trepidations detailed elsewhere about Silence, but I have my reasons. For instance, Alien (1979) was a supreme, female-led unassailable piece of filmmaking whose effectiveness and horror lied in the undecipherable nature of its antagonist alongside perfect pacing. Silence, worked with that same trope and continued on a similar feminist exploration, but it took Foster’s performance to elevate it a cut above genre counterparts and films competing with it in the Academy. But upon first glance, under the duress of a raw, fresh and hot take, Hannibal was invigorating to the emotions, in spite of obvious flaws and a tough act to follow in the immaculate Silence. Namely, that Julianne Moore’s flat interpretation of Starling, or perhaps Scott’s interpretation of a beleaguered Starling, proved an unfit match for the actor cast for the role.
Hannibal‘s biggest mistake was its failure to understand that Lecter’s confinement fueled the menace he is capable of exuding, and this, perhaps, starts with Thomas Harris’ writing. It was, previously, the juxtaposition of the brainless Buffalo Bill, free and on the loose, against the restrained and intellectually inclined Lecter that heightened the urgency for Starling. A match of wits underlying a race against time. Here, Starling and Lecter don’t set off on their collision course until very late, and their reunion is akin to a rekindled flame such that to make sense of it is to imbue it with a sexual angle. But that’s a non-reciprocal arrangement dictated by legal imperatives considering also that the run-up to that moment is the fallout from a drug bust that sidelines Starling and makes her new enemies in Washington. Following that is a prolonged side plot in Florence, Italy where Lecter is hiding out and is discovered by a local corrupt cop intent on claiming the bounty offered by a former patient. The latter is a horrifically disfigured wealthy sadist and molester (an uncredited Goodman) once treated by Lecter. It seems someone always has history with someone else. Vengeance, it seems, stirs both hearts and loins. It’s a point made clear by the fetishization of Lecter’s muzzle and its elevation to valuable memorabilia by Barney the sole constant in the franchise besides Hopkins.
Sometimes rowdy, sometimes pouty.