But Then There's This: Red Dragon
In 2002, Ratner directed Red Dragon, which was the second time Hollywood tried to film the first book in the Hannibal Lecter series. First, a brief history about the books: The first was Red Dragon, in which a jailed Hannibal Lecter helps brilliant FBI profiler Will Graham catch the Tooth Fairy serial killer. In The Silence of the Lambs, a jailed Hannibal Lecter helps young FBI cadet Clarice Starling catch the Buffalo Bill serial killer, and then escapes prison. In Hannibal, an escaped Hannibal Lecter does lots of terrible things to people for hundreds of pages and it's supposed to be interesting or enjoyable, for reasons that are unclear to anyone without serious mental disorders.
Michael Mann directed Red Dragon in 1986 and called it Manhunter, which tells you a lot about why the movie sucks. For example, the prison that holds Hannibal looks like this:
Because in the '80s, murderers were sentenced to shopping malls.
In 2001, Ridley Scott gave us Hannibal by taking the highly flawed book and changing it just enough to include different, brand new flaws. But hey, Ray Liotta eats his own brains, so there's that.
Good luck unseeing that!
Ratner may have an unholy allegiance to Chris Tucker, but he knew better than to mess with the classic Silence of the Lambs movie that Jonathan Demme made. He kept the look of the prison, and he kept the feel of the shoot. But he did more than merely ape Demme, because Red Dragon features a serial killer every bit as distinct and terrifying as Buffalo Bill. Ralph Fiennes' portrayal of Mr. Dolarhyde, the tormented murderer with a cleft palate, is startling and flawlessly captured. So Brett "Rush Hour 3" Ratner did something neither Michael Mann nor Ridley Scott could do: make a good Hannibal Lecter movie.
How Did That Happen?
First off, it happened because I must have somehow sold Ratner short. But he also had some help. Ted Tally, who adapted Silence, also adapted Red Dragon. He stayed pure to the book, and addressed a problem: There's far less Hannibal in the first book, Silence made Hannibal a star and audiences demanded more of him. Tally expertly balanced additional scenes for Anthony Hopkins that stayed true to the spirit of the book and worked with the story. Then you had great performances from Fiennes, Emily Watson and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Also, Edward Norton hadn't quite started sucking yet.