A bloody delight!
Anthony Hopkins approached the Hannibal persona with subtlety, class, vocabulary and calm in 1991’s Silence of the Lambs. His passivity was concerning and he was frightening by implication only until the third act. He was a mysterious figure in the shadow of another; both a protagonist and an antagonist to Jodie Foster’s character. She is replaced by Julianne Moore in this sequel.
Though her absence breaks an otherwise clean continuity; with references to the past and recognizable patterns, Moore fills the mandate with a fair rendition of Clarice Starling. This is Hopkins’ show, regardless. The gore is glorified but celebrated by slow captivating build-up that pays off. The film is eerie, looks luxurious and the score gives significant gravitas to suspense.
It borrows from the cheesiest horror subgenres yet benefits from a good budget, stunning make-up, keen photography and the best actors money can rent. The end result is highly professional, calculated and always reaches full impact. Hannibal appears omniscient, as he always did, and his intelligence is terrifying when fully exposed. He is both who we follow and who we fear.