Primal Fear - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Primal Fear Reviews

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January 15, 2017
Edward Norton's performance is brilliant. Norton keeps you engaged even when the plot is slow.
½ December 29, 2016
The daring ending and stand-out performances easily make up for the many familiar crime-turned-court drama functions to result in a well done movie worth watching.
½ November 13, 2016
In his debut as an actor, Edward Norton is dynamite onscreen.
October 22, 2016
Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and Edward Norton lead an all-star cast in Primal Fear. Gere is Martin Vail, one of the biggest attorneys in Chicago. A case arises when an archbishop is brutally murdered. The defendant is an altar boy from the archbishop's church named Aaron (Edward Norton), who left the scene of the crime and is covered with bloodstains of the victim. Despite these circumstances Vail believes him to be innocent of the crime, particularly as Aaron seems to be have an innocent persona, incapable of such a heinous crime. He believes it so much so decides to take on the case for free.

The prosecutor Janet Venable (Linney), believes this is an open and shut case, but knows that she has to be on her toes as her and Vail have quite a history. The two constantly play a chess match with each other throughout the film, despite the fact they somewhat feel for each other romantically. As the investigation begins, disturbing evidence comes into play that involve scandal and corruption with the archbishop. Vail uncovers that the State's attorney (John Mahoney) and real estate moguls lost millions of dollars due to the archbishop refusing to build property on church grounds. He also discovers the archbishop was involved in filming sex acts between woman and his altar boys. As this investigation unfolds, a psychiatric evaluator Dr. Arrington (Frances McDormand), uncovers that Aaron has multiple personality disorder. This diagnosis is due to Aaron's abusive past with his father, and scandal uncovered with the archbishop. This reveal gives the audience, and all the characters a completely different set of eyes on the entire case. Despite this discovery, Vail cannot now plead insanity as this would change his plead and be grounds for him being disbarred. Vail has no choice, but to try and lead the prosecution into this same conclusion.

Primal Fear was a riveting court room drama. The dark under tones of the film, the new evidence that keeps unveiling throughout the film keeps the audience guessing. Edward Norton was excellent and earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. His ability to be the innocent and somewhat slow-witted Aaron, and then transform into the dark, violent and angry persona Ray was incredible. The film does a great job balancing politics, the law, and the emotion in this murder case. The film also adds a morality aspect to the film as you begin to question if one can truly execute a person who is insane. Gere provides one of his best performances and is an excellent lead. You root for him as he looks for ways to find the best in people and strive for justice in a case that has all the odds against him. Some of the tangential characters and paths that Gere investigates as part of the corruption element are the only aspects of the movie that drag the movie down a bit. The characters are what really sell this story as all of them are convincing. I truly believed Gere was a hot shot attorney, and his was in it for the morality and not for the money. Norton's troubled past, and stutter made him quite a convincing and innocent character. The tension between Linney and Gere added a respectable element to the film. Primal Fear is worth watching for Edward Norton's performance alone. The story, cast and direction certainly build on top of this, and Primal Fear is one of the better court room dramas.

October 7, 2016
I started watching and never feel like finishing it. Unless it gets to be very good at the end, I was not impressed. I'll get to it someday.
½ September 30, 2016
Norton's the star here, but the script and direction should be commended for their straight to the point nature, even if some plot threads feel unfinished by films end.
½ August 31, 2016
Not as suspenseful as one would hope but still has like able characters, a terrific Edward Norton performance and an interesting enough story.
August 20, 2016
Great courtroom drama which will leave you smiling to yourself.
½ July 26, 2016
The last thirty minutes or so is incredible, full of great acting, suspense, shock and cinematic brilliance, but the movie, much like the Usual Suspects moves somewhat slow and not as intriguing as what the ending made it deserve to be. Edward Norton is definitely the best actor in this movie.
July 16, 2016
I saw most of this movie this morning and Edward Norton can do no wrong.
½ June 30, 2016
Riku Kere ja oikeussalidraama. Ei niin huonokaan.
June 21, 2016
Great movie, from beginning to end. Very exciting thriller.
June 20, 2016
It was a one-night just lasted 6 months...

What appears to be an open and shut case when an altar boy is seen bloody fleeing the scene of a crime that led to a dead priest is anything but obvious. A defense lawyer takes the case for no money with a point to prove, but shortly after entering his plea, he realizes there is more to this case then he could have ever imagined and he may have stepped on a landmine from the very beginning.

"I haven't seen this many lawyers and politicians together since this morning at confession."

Gregory Hoblit, director of Fallen, Hart's War, Fracture, Untraceable, Frequency, Class of '61, Roe vs. Wade, and NYPD 2069, delivers Primal Fear. The storyline for this picture is outstanding with some wonderful twists and turns and great character development. The cast delivers outstanding performances and includes Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Edward Norton, John Mahoney, Andre Braugher, and Joe Spano.

"Why gamble with money when you can gamble with people's lives?"

My best friend in college always adored this picture and I had seen it before and had to see it again for the first time in a long time. I had forgotten how great this film is. Norton is excellent in this film and it is great in a Fight Club/Usual Suspects kind of way. This is a very underrated thriller that is a must see and borderline worth adding to the collection.

"You want justice, go to a whore house. You want to get fucked, go to court."

Grade: A
June 20, 2016
to the point court drama thats forward moving and only slightly not my thing, yet still entertaining. side note: seeing skinny Bayard Ellis is strange.
Super Reviewer
½ June 10, 2016
A pretty straightforward courtroom drama, with an astounding debut performance from Edward Norton and a great ending reveal.
June 4, 2016
A breaking-through Edward Norton.
½ June 1, 2016
Kind of see the twist coming. But its satisfying all the same.
April 29, 2016
Though Primal Fear suffers from some incredulous antics that will never happen in a courtroom, it is powered through by Richard Gere's likeability and a great performance from Edward Norton.
April 23, 2016
Complex storyline, but very exciting and enjoyable.
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