Primal Fear is best described by adjectives
A lot of words get thrown around in movie reviews that I generally don’t agree with. Words like “thrilling,” “taut,” and “great ass.” Few movies can live up to such lofty descriptions but Primal Fear is one of them.

Primal Fear is indeed a taut, thrilling courtroom drama filled with sweet lines and a great ass. Richard Gere supplies said ass as hotshot defense attorney Martin Vail – a man who has made a career out of massaging the law for his mafia and thug ridden clientele.

Few men command as much attention from women and gerbils as Dick Gere

Nobody is surprised when Vail talks his way into defending the number one suspect (played by Eddie Norton) in the brutal slaying of a popular local bishop. But while Marty Vail thinks he’s riding a bullet train to Publicity Town, he’s completely unaware of the planned detour in What-the-hell-is-going-on-here-Ville. That's right, this slick plot is filled with scandalous twists and mephitic turns, but it’s the acting that really drives this film.

Ed Norton contemplates the horror of his Italian Job 'stache

Gere is shrewd, arrogant, and impossible not to love. He’s the kind of guy who can stay out all night chatting up women in bars and messing around with his gerbils and then kick ass in court the next morning. But before you get too excited, I should probably note that the gerbils only have a minor role in this particular film.

Laura Linney also stars as Martin Vail's lawyer ex-girlfriend. In a move that shouldn't surprise anyone, she gets assigned as Gere’s opposing prosecution/love interest. Linney brings a certain intelligent foxiness that makes her more than adequate in both roles though I still liked her more in Congo (Just kidding. Ugh. Excuse me while I dry heave on my cheese nips).

I saw Congo once. And now I'm probably sterile

Linney is good and Gere is better but there’s no doubt that Edward Norton is the true star of the film. “How good is he?” you may ask. He’s so good that it’s impossible not to be caught up in his performance. This is the role that shot Norton into the limelight and for good reason. I could describe his performance in greater detail but I won’t - so you’ll just have to see it for yourself.

Primal Fear is a little dated with its stuffy wardrobe and lack of cool gadgets (case in point: they use VHS) but that serves to keep it true to its Film Noir roots. Every once in a while you’ll hear some trumpet belting out a sad tune and you’ll think “oh yeah, I’m feeling me some Film Noir up in here.” And the dialogue is just crisp enough to keep that hard-boiled feeling going strong from beginning to end.

Primal Fear is a smart, well-crafted movie that is captivating right up until the very last scene. It may not be the deepest movie, but it’s definitely got a thrilling, taut ass. I suggest you stare at it intently and be prepared to drool a little.


surrealgertrude said...

I've been plugging this film to a new generation for quite some time--Norton is Oscar-worthy and the final scenes never fail to make the hair rise on my neck! Nice to know you appreciate it, too.

Matt said...

This was a great film all the way through. Even though I knew there were supposed to be some revelations near the end of the movie I still never saw them coming.

Anonymous said...