Stylistic excess, comedy, and romance often help make extremes of cruelty and horror function as cathartic metaphor, and all three figure, not always successfully, in this sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. A vengeful victim of mutilation vies with a detective, an FBI agent, and a self-serving U.S. official to bring to justice a notorious serial killer who's living incognito in Italy. The detective is the only character whose point of view is convincingly established; the sequences that include him, set in Italy, are some of the best in the movie—probably the only scenes in which the talents of one of the actors (Giancarlo Giannini) and those of screenwriters Steven Zaillian and David Mamet fully converge. The other characterizations and plotlines suffer by comparison, especially because the Italian scenes also demonstrate a striking confluence of visual style with plot points and themes. Other strong sequences include an early action segment that's beautifully choreographed—the details are unusually comprehensible given the fast pace—and a finale about which professional etiquette dictates I say next to nothing, though having read the brilliant source novel by Thomas Harris, I protest its gross distortion. Directed by Ridley Scott; with Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, and Gary Oldman. 131 min.