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Primal Fear Reviews

Page 1 of 187
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

March 3, 2014
On the whole, Primal Fear is an average thriller/court room drama. The relationship between Richard Gere and Laura Linney adds a little spice to the proceedings but generally it is nothing we haven't seen before. However, it is the brilliant performance from a young Edward Norton that pushes the film into above average territory and into solid original entertainment. The mid 90s is littered with films with great twist endings and although Primal Fear came after the big two (Se7en & The Usual Suspects) it's ending is just as powerful.
TheDudeLebowski65
TheDudeLebowski65

Super Reviewer

March 28, 2013
Primal Fear is a well crafted court room drama thriller that is very well directed by underrated Gregory Hoblit. I really love his movies and Primal Fear is taut, thrilling edge of your seat movie that will keep you guessing from start to finish. The film boasts a great cast of talented actor who light up the screen and each actor brings something unique to the film. The film is notable for being the screen debut of Edward Norton who just steals the show among veteran actors like Richard Gere and Laura Linney. The film at times does have a few weak points, but with a great cast at hand that just light up the screen, it is hard to notice the film's imperfections. Edward Norton, like I said is simply wonderful in his part and he delivers a phenomenal first performance in his role of Aaron Stampler, a teen accused of killing a popular archbishop. The film is engaging from the first frame onwards and it is skillfully executed to keep you entertained. Primal Fear is one of the best court room thrillers that I have seen, and it is a film that is directed by a director that deserves much more praise than he gets. If you love thrillers that will keep you on the edge till the very end, Primal Fear is one such movie. This is a chilling piece of work that is brilliantly constructed and has a smart plot with all the necessary ingredients to make it a standout film and a memorable one that you soon won't forget. The film showcased Edward Norton's talents and it was clear that by seeing him in this early role, he would become a talented actor that would deliver terrific and engaging performances.
Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

May 11, 2012
One detriment of the film is its mainstream formula. It needlessly adds the romance of Gere and Linney, which is both frivolous and unrealistic. I'm not sure which audience was being catered for with their wholly unlikely association with each other. Though hampered by Hollywood's depiction of a courtroom, Primal Fear is a twisting, entertaining thriller with Edward Norton's performance being the key to its success.
LWOODS04
LWOODS04

Super Reviewer

July 13, 2009
"A very interesting twisted story. I didn't really know much about the movie. I just was cruising through Netflix looking for a good crime drama and saw Mr. Gere on the cover and hit play. Gere never disappoints in these types of films. I miss him in movies. I was surprised with all the good actors this movie had in it.

I really enjoyed the movie and the way it played out. I kinda saw the ending coming since I was watching with my mother who has a big mouth and continues to tell me what's about to happen. I hate watching films she's already seen. But still I was completely enthralled by the story and the unravelling of it all.

A movie I would see again.
Market Man
Market Man

Super Reviewer

September 9, 2012
The story is handled very well and is full of many twists. Definitely an entertaining film and the great performances (notably Edward Norton) make it all the better. I like "Primal Fear" because it doesn't loose plausibility with the twists; the narrative stays coherent. I have many problems with major twists in films because most of the time it ruins the story.
jjnxn
jjnxn

Super Reviewer

March 29, 2007
If you want to see excellent acting in the service of an involving well told story this is a good place to start. Across the board there is not one weak performance. Gere has one of his very best roles as a fame loving attorney who chases a headline case that is more than he bargained for. He and the Laura Linney spar and parry both in and out of court with wonderful brio, she is his equal even if he is loath to admit it and the actress's personal strong persona fits the role perfectly. In a star making performance Edward Norton grabs his part by the throat and runs with it, a brilliant job and one that marked him as a true talent to watch. Each secondary roles is filled with top drawer character actors-Frances McDormand as an understanding therapist, Maura Tierney and Andre Braugher as Gere's assistants and on and on all deliver quality work. Alfre Woodard deserves special mention as the no nonsense slightly cantankerous judge who tipples a little on the side. She takes what could have been a throwaway part and makes her both memorable and humorous. A little overlong you won't notice so good is the acting and once it gets going the story keeps the interest level high.
DreamExtractor
DreamExtractor

Super Reviewer

August 15, 2011
Primal Fear is a movie that you will forever love Edward Norton, he is so amaing, if your going to love the movie at least love it for him.
Coxxie M

Super Reviewer

June 19, 2011
i mean, i guess Richard Gere is a good actor, sure. obviously there are a few scenes where you can tell he removed the gerbil from his ass, clipped its whiskers a little and shoved it back very high up his ass to make sure he was able to realistically bring out those lawyer emotions. i also like the laid back Jackie Brown-ish judge who sounds like she's fresh after half a joint even when putting Gerbil Ass in contempt for the fourth time. Gere is all like, "JUDGE!? What the fuck judge, i am DOING. MY. JOBB!" and shes just all, "psshh, you needs to stopz representin' yo self and starts represizzlin' yo client.. shoot..."
Albert K

Super Reviewer

February 22, 2011
An entertaining movie. Nothing more, nothing less.
Lady D

Super Reviewer

February 21, 2007
Still one of my favourite film endings ever! The film itself is starting to date a little, but a great performance by a younger Ed Norton here, clever plot, enjoyable Thriller.
Thomas J

Super Reviewer

December 23, 2010
Edward Norton sharpened his teeth with this role!! Really great movie just for seeing his performance!
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
LorenzoVonMatterhorn

Super Reviewer

August 10, 2010
"I don't have to believe you. I don't care if you are innocent. I'm your mother, your father, your priest."

An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.

REVIEW
A big-time attorney defends a choir boy who has been accused of murdering a priest. Playing the attention-seeking and arrogant yet sincere lawyer, Gere gives arguably the best performance of his career, making his character slimy yet likable. Linney is terrific as the DA prosecuting the case. In an audacious film debut, Norton is fabulous playing the accused murderer. Although the script may prove to be flawed under close scrutiny, this is a clever and absorbing courtroom drama. It does go on a bit too long; the secondary plot thread concerning Bauer detracts from the main story and could easily have been trimmed.
Richard C

Super Reviewer

July 14, 2010
B+
Drew S

Super Reviewer

January 23, 2007
90% of this is a typical courtroom drama, but the subversive tenth makes it completely worth watching. The social issue it gets at - corruption and abuse in the Catholic church - lacks punch these days, but I'm sure it was a lot more relevant 15 years ago, so it receives a tentative pass from me. The investigative legwork is unilaterally uninteresting regardless of what year you're approaching it from. This is little more than a high-budget Law and Order Episode, with sexy justice antics that wouldn't in a million years be allowed in a real life court. The acting is passable, perfectly within what's expected from a movie of this caliber, but most of the players here had and have done better. Laura Linney is stunning during her prosecutions, but she feels oddly canned during her interactions with Richard Gere. As an actress who takes painstaking care to craft realistic characters, seeing this caricature of a jaded workaholic feels either like a bad directorial decision or just a really unpleasant surprise. Edward Norton's performance here was the first brick paved in a long road of mysterious characters, all waiting to explode with volcanic violence. Ultimately, his product here owes an awful lot to Seven and Silence of the Lambs for a pretty specific reason. His portrayal of Aaron Stampler is lively, and probably the best anyone could have done, but the character itself is not really realistic. Richard Gere sucks and I hate him but he's not too bad here, honestly. The role was basically written for him, but if you've got a niche, stick with it.

To discuss Primal Fear's claim to fame, the ending is initially a little bit of a sideswipe, but eventually unfolds after the movie's over as more positive than negative. The movie reaches it, it has to be said, on some unfair terms; a moral gray area is completely obliterated to keep the audience's biases appeased, and for everyone to go home feeling at least a little happy the two "good guys" have to kind of be douchebags. Really, everyone in this movie is sort of a douchebag, but I guess that's why the ending works.
Jason O

Super Reviewer

September 14, 2009
Perhaps the best of all of Richard Gere's movies. Edward Norton's performance is just outstanding in this one.
Cherry D

Super Reviewer

August 15, 2007
"..Sooner or later a man who wears two faces forgets which one is real.."
Fernando Rafael Q

Super Reviewer

May 21, 2007
Off with a rough start, the film gains power toward the middle of the film where it turns into a riveting courtroom drama/thriller with an (unnecessary) love story, but great performances by an all-star cast: Richard Gere (just fine), Laura Linney (great) , Edward Norton (MARVELOUS in his academy award nominated debut role), Alfre Woodard and Frances McDormand (really good in a brief role). Smart, nail-biting thriller directed by Gregory Hoblit...
garyX
garyX

Super Reviewer

March 18, 2007
First off, what on earth is with that appalling title?! It sounds like a straight to DVD Van Damme movie about dinosaurs or something...In reality, it's yet another ho-hum courtroom drama in which Richard Gere plays a defense attorney who used to be a prosecutor (*sigh*) who is defending altar boy Edward Norton, accused of brutally murdering an archbishop. To add "spice" he is up against prosecutor Laura Linney, his ex-girlfriend (*double sigh*) who utters lines like "It was a one night stand Marty, it just lasted six months." (*triple sigh/cringe*). Yes, all the cliches are in effect; every courtroom scene is stuffed with the usual "You are in contempt!"/"I will not have grandstanding in my courtroom!"/"Strike the witness' testimony from the record!" etc etc etc and the so-called twist is blindingly obvious the moment Ed stammers out his first line. I know Norton is a good actor, but it's hard to tell under all that stuttering, local yokel accent and occasional outbursts of shouting and the whole thing just gave me a serious case of deja vu. Adequately executed, but there's nothing here you won't have seen at least a dozen times before.
thmtsang
thmtsang

Super Reviewer

November 10, 2007
Courtroom drama about an altar boy accused of murdering a archbishop.
A B

Super Reviewer

October 28, 2007
Usual Suspects-like courtroom thriller.
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