Primal Fear - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Primal Fear Reviews

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November 17, 2017
Wow. Goosebumps for Edward Norton's performance.
October 22, 2017
I just LOVE this movie! I watch it whenever it happens to be showing. I think all of the cast give excellent performances. Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and Edward Norton Jr. are all at their best. And the plot is one of the best courtroom dramas I've ever seen and I've seen a lot of them! I can't recommend this movie enough....
½ October 12, 2017
Excellent movie, exceptional performance from both Edward Norton and Richard Gere! If you love movies with twists and turns, this road will have you driving all over the place wondering and second guessing until the very end. Another great court room movie! A must see!
September 30, 2017
Still holds up as one of the great court room drama films. Edward Norton's performance is nothing sort of brilliant. Instantly made me a fan of his.Richard Gere does a phenomenal job too. I This was one of the first five DVDs I bought as a teenager and it still holds up.
September 10, 2017
With straight-forward direction and camera work that do little to inspire, a whole host of characters that range from bland and stereotypical to rather pointless, and a number of plot points that weren't satisfactorily resolved, things don't seem to come together quite as perfectly as you'd hope in the end. However, the film thrives on its compelling central story and an absolutely fantastic performance from Edward Norton, both of which are engaging enough to distract from some of its other problems. In the end, you're left thinking it was a good film that had potential to be something great.
September 1, 2017
Norton deserved an OSCAR for this performance, nuff said.
½ August 19, 2017
Though it often strangely feels like a television pilot, Primal Fear more than succeeds due to great characterization and acting, as well as a twisty and confident script.
July 7, 2017
Big name cast, story that keeps your interest and builds to the unexpected conclusion. Richard Gere is amazingly handsome and and Edward Norton give a tremendous performance. Worth seeing if you enjoy crime, legal drama.
April 26, 2017
Yes, it's derivative, but it takes you on it's own mysterious yet interesting path.
½ April 23, 2017
One of my favourite courtroom thrillers and a stellar debut by Norton.
April 21, 2017
This is a straightforward, entertaining thriller with unexpected twists, and an Oscar-worthy performance by Edward Norton.
April 18, 2017
Norton kills it and makes this the thrill ride it is.
April 4, 2017
This is a pretty well-crafted courtroom drama with an unpredictable plot twist. Also, it first introduced us to how great of an actor Edward Norton was and how great he was at conveying different moods.

After an altar boy is accused of brutally murdering a famous archbishop, his lawyer begins to realize that he has a split personality which causes him to do violent acts. He then has to perform the difficult task of pleading insanity to the jury.

This movie is a very good courtroom thriller. It brings its own twists and alterations to the genre and it makes for a pretty well-crafted movie. Although its storyline is pretty typical by today's standards, it is still a great watch because of the plot, twist, and acting.

The acting in this movie is very well-done. Edward Norton is able to sound like 2 convincing characters. His performance is well-done and it shows us that he can convincingly convey different emotions and moods. I also really liked Laura Linney's performance. She plays the role of a rude and nasty lady and her facial expressions and the tone of her voice often makes us hate her in several scenes involving the courthouse.

The plot twist at the end caught me off guard. I'm not going to spoil what it is but it's really well-done. It doesn't make the movie seem unrealistic and fanciful at all and it changes the movie immensely on your second viewing. The movie gave no nods or clues to it so it's extremely hard to be able to predict it. It comes truly as a surprise.

So in conclusion, this is one of the best courtroom dramas in the past few decades. It has a great plot and a great twist. But most importantly, it is the movie which first introduced us to Edward Norton and how great of an actor he was.
March 20, 2017
This movie is worthwhile only for Edward Norton's performance. The rest of it is a combination of plot holes, lazy screenwriting and wooden performances.
March 11, 2017
A pretty decent drama that feels like an old law show from the 90s though Edward Norton is great too
February 22, 2017
At first the movie is somewhat laughable due to cheesy dialogue and all too overplayed motivations-which is a fault of the script. But the actors do their best, Richard Gere and Edward Norton in particular. The movie ends up questioning a deeply philosophical belief. That people are basically good- something Martin Vail asserts near the middle of the movie. He needs to justify his life and career. He has spent his career defending criminals and low lifes and making lots of money and fame in the process. So he has to vindicate himself. He has to believe that he saves innocent people from time to time. His hopes rest in Aaron Stampler, a stammering teenager who's (allegedly) killed the archbishop of Chicago. SPOILERS follow. Martin Vail falls into the trap of letting his personal feelings get involved and actually comes to believe Aaron is innocent. However, as the movie progresses we find that not only is Aaron innocent, but he's not innocent. He appears to have multiple personality disorder. His alterego, Roy, claims responsibility. New plot twist. Though Martin successfully pulls off the idea of claiming insanity without pleading it, it's revealed that Roy actually doesn't black out and actually doesn't have any multiple personality anything. Turns out he's guilty and it was all an act. This performance was pulled off extremely well by Edward Norton, who played all of his character's motivations without giving them away. However don't let it distract you too much from Gere's. Gere here plays a kind of J.J. Gittes, disappointed in the same way Jake was at the end when he realized all his efforts were in vein and was told to forget about it. Martin was finally convinced he had been a 'good' person. He had done the moral thing and vindicated his career-his life. All ripped away and we see a disillusioned Martin walk away from the courthouse. He had been naive to believe that it was just good people who sometimes do really bad things. As Roy tells him when he posits there was no Roy "I thought you had it figured out. There never was an Aaron". This line, arguably the most important, rips apart Martin's naive philosophy. He had to fess up to the truth. They aren't good people who sometimes do bad things. They are bad people who sometimes do good things. And he's no better than anyone of em.
January 18, 2017
This was a pretty good film. I think at it's time it was very impressive. It still is in many ways, but there have been some even more thrilling films since then and so this pales in comparison to those in a way.
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.
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