Primal Fear (1996) - Crime, Drama, Mystery

Hohum Score



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

IMDB: 7.7
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Stars: Richard Gere, Laura Linney
Length: 129 Minutes
PG Rating: R
Reviews: 24 out of 273 found boring (8.79%)

One-line Reviews (182)

This patheticly lame cliche is 2.5 hours of massive legal inconsistencies and manufactured drama.

The beginning hour is a little slow, but I would encourage you to stick with it even if you get bored.

At first, you think this is one of those seen before stories and then you end up thinking the screenplay is rather clever and unexpected...

This movie will keep you entertaining from start till end.

The movie is finally given some life and is at least a little more entertaining and interesting.

At just over 2hrs, Fear is a riveting education in the routine abduction of our legal system by the rich and powerful.

Although the film suffers from a wealth of annoying inconsistencies and fails to explain many of the significant plot holes, it is forgiven by the casual viewer because of it's compelling storyline.

A great courtroom drama with an unexpected twist .

Indeed, the end of the movie is absolutely unexpected...

I enjoyed it, it was a pleasant watching experience.

It's thrilling and nuanced.

If you enjoy an engaging and involving thriller with surprises, this is the movie for you.

Primal Fear is one of those films that can be dull but it can also be compelling.

enjoyable .

Primal Fear is definitely worth the watch!

The film was too predictable, too.

Sometimes entertaining time-waster .

I've watched this movie around 5-7 times and I assure you, it will be captivating, spellbinding and intriguing to any fanatic of drama, crime investigation, jury, mystery, murder trials, psychiatry, psychology, justice, revenge, deception, love, gore, anger, psychopaths, and manipulation.

It is just that predictable, and it was annoying that the filmmaker obviously thought it was something clever, when in fact it was nothing of the sort.

a boring pile of drivel .

Great atmosphere and a strong supporting cast including Laura Linney and Frances McDormand make this an exciting movie experience

It's just powerful, moving, well acted and thrilling.

Highly entertaining and well acted court drama .

Too long and boring in places.

There are no red herrings, nor surprises, it's all tediously predictable.

This film is definitely worth watching when you have a chance, especially for the ending.

I regret sometimes to see great actors turning into propaganda instruments for certain people.

It's worth watching this movie just to see his character deflate at the end.

And i found myself wondering if Richard gere was going to fall asleep, he was so lifeless in this movie.

And I must admit Gere is good when he's playing cynical in the first half(I especially liked his conversations with the journalist, with lines like, "Remember how your mother always told you to save your money for a rainy day?

A great story, great acting, and very intense.

lead him to believe in his client's innocence and the means by which he proceeds to defend Aaron against the prosecution's accusations turns out to be highly unorthodox and extremely fascinating to watch.

He just seems so bland and phony that it ruined the movie.

Primarily engrossing viewing .

His explanation for his actions is not sufficient, and the reality is the courtroom portion of the movie is fairly generic and somewhat uninteresting.

Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and, of course, the remarkable Edward Norton are all very convincing as their intriguing, albeit inadequately explained, characters.

Some people were able to guess the ending in advance, but I didn't, and rather enjoyed it.

In concerns to Norton, this is a fantastic example of an actor that in his career has produced an abundance of stunning turns that in Primal Fear struck gold in arguably his most memorable performance and in a catalogue that includes Fight Club and American History X, that is quite some feat.

Even if it does, it's a pretty intense crime movie and certainly entertaining.

The plot intricacies get more and more exciting, although sometimes distracted by an unnecessary subplot about the priest' connections with the mob, and it also distracts on Norton's spectacular performance as Aaron Stapler, which finally explodes at the film's climactic confrontation.

Absolutely brilliant and gripping to the very end.

A exciting courtroom film with twists and turns that will have you questioning everyone Richard Gere's character encounters.

As for the rest of the film, it was extremely entertaining thanks to the outstanding cast, that features both Richard Gere and a very young, Edward Norton, in one of his first roles.

Even after having seen it 3 times, and knowing the plot twists, I find this film to be "riveting".

Although the script may prove to be flawed under close scrutiny, this is a clever and absorbing courtroom drama.

And I normally don't like Mahoney very much, so it was twice as stunning.

It's a completely enjoyable trip, if your expectations are in line.

Suspenseful and full of intrigue.

I wasn't expecting it, and having that first fascinating twist sprung on me really made the movie just a little better.

On the whole, however, this is a very watchable and exciting thriller.

And yet this movie is worth watching.

Yes, American film-makers are generally keen on filming trials but in this movie, the film-maker Gregory Hoblit succeeds in making the trial entrancing and fascinating and in increasing the spectator's curiosity.

The film is thrilling right up to the end and the final twist, while expected, did not disappoint.

It has a compelling plot, interesting twists and some amazing acting, notably by Edward Norton.

Only to be brought down later -- by the unexpected.

Primal Fear is an engaging movie that serves up a plate of delicious moral ambiguity.

This story is suspenseful and the shocking ending worth every minute leading up to it.

I also didn't find Laura Linney's character, "Janet Venable" to be entertaining, just annoying.

Although he can without doubt pull off the bad boy psycho, the whole time i was thinking how totally obvious and predictable the storyline was becoming and could not believe the ease at which he was seemingly getting off Scott free just for changing personality on three occasions, only one of which was outburst in the courtroom which immediately meant he was crazy and could not be tried as sane despite anyone actually studying him properly.

Engaging, entertaining, an unfolding mystery.

Stampler's version is also intriguing, he doesn't remember anything, let alone having killed the priest.

Maybe it's a bit basic at times, not to mention the despicable gender politics, but it's still a quintessential and engrossing 90s mystery procedural.

All in all you have a really good film when you thought you were about to watch another dull thing.

An absorbing, well-acted, and believable courtroom thriller with just enough twists and turns to keep things interesting throughout.

Ultimately the film answers its biggest questions in rather thrilling fashion.

Knowing the ending, the 130 minutes passed really slow.

The story ends on a chilling note, thanks largely to the clever, intense and totally convincing performance ED NORTON gives in his film debut.

Gregory Hoblit directed with focus but not much flash, however Gere's solid performance, and a very exciting supporting turn from Edward Norton as the complicated accused, makes the picture worthwhile.

Steve Shagan & Ann Biderman's Adpated Screenplay is taut, with a culmination that's unexpected & absolutely shocking.

'Primal Fear' is a decent and moderately absorbing courtroom drama film.

"-Nathaniel Hawthorne, 'The Scarlet Letter'Gregory Hoblitt's adaption of William Diehl's 1993 novel is an exciting legal thriller filled with twists and turns that leave the viewer speechless by its jaw-dropping conclusion.

Clever and Absorbing .

Perhaps at some stage, there was a decent script attached to the project, which was then abandoned in favor of the pointless, shoddy potboiler that ended up being shot.

So you look at the actors involved here : you think Richard Gere is going to give one of his non acting job, that all the female characters are going to be as useless and boring as always and that the so-called "newcomer" will turn out to be one of those tasteless Matt Damon types of actors...

Terrific supporting turns all around, with a literate, smart script and unexpected ending.

THen well get an Ally Mcbeal look alike lawyer with half the attitude and double the body fat and have her go up against the main character x files style played by richard gere cos he plays the boring lifeless good looking guy role well almost as good as fox moulder.

For the most part, this is a very enjoyable movie.

Edward Norton was about 98% of the reason to watch both of these films, which were both absolutely amazing and intense.

Then, too, the script, based on a novel by William Diehl, is first rate and full of twists and turns, with a stunning maneuver at the finale.

very intense.

But, again, you have to face the facts : Gere is incredibly believable and tasty, Liney, McDormand and Woodard are close to perfection and Norton makes a stunning screen debut (probably the most impressive one since Timothy Hutton's performance in "Ordinary people")...

Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable watching experience.

The acting in this movie is enjoyable!

Having seen the Usual Suspects which is a far better film which uses a similar idea, Primal Fear was quite slow and tedious.

In fact, this was even a very enjoyable movie.

bit predictable i thought .

"Primal Fear" is irresistible to anyone who enjoys courtroom dramas or psychological thrillers as it has a twisted plot that remains both gripping and immensely entertaining from beginning to end.

A good courtroom drama, where we also get some character development combined with some star acting to bring us an enjoyable and entertaining film overall - the twists and turns in the plot also raise some interesting issues that one can take away.

His character is genuinely interesting, and it's sometimes fascinating to see this wise guy struggle to cope with the fact that he's taken on something bigger than he bargained for.

this is one movie I can watch over and over because Edward Norton is so riveting.

Having said that, it's still worth watching and whilst it isn't the best legal thriller I've seen, it's still well above average.

An inconclusive, sometimes entertaining, riveting drama.

It's basically _Presumed Innocent_ for retarded people, with implausible legal silliness, corrupt Chicago politicians from central casting, and a disappointingly mundane denouement.

Kept me on the edge of my chair throughout.

For the most, Richard Gere's performance can be described as dull.

Gere is perfect as the self-important lawyer, Norton (in his screen debut) riveting as his client, and Linney gives an effectively understated performance as a prosecutor who can hold her own.

The second half improves the movie immensely, as the predictable twists are finally revealed and the unpredictable ones start arriving.

There are instances when his performance is intense (most notably when he is talking to that friend of Aaron's).

stunning performance by Edward Norton .

This movie will hold you tight at your seat and at times your heart beat might match step with that of the intense storyline.

The case is intriguing and did what seldom movies can do, surprise me.

The film was a bit slow and gere just doesn't do it for me.

The movie is exciting from the minute it starts all the way to the very last second.

Intriguing movie with a shocking ending .

The story is very well told, with a lot of unexpected twists.

Having said that, it's the climax of the film that is most stunning and brings the story to a totally unexpected conclusion.

She has something to prove and a huge chip on her shoulder and makes for some intense debates in the courtroom between Gere and Linney.

I thought this movie was pretty ordinary and dull.

This is only one of the first masterfully written plot turns that keeps you on the edge of your seat and unable to truly grasp the situation fully.

It dragged on and on and the twist at the end was both obvious and stupid.

Stunning film debut for Norton.

Our involvement can range from the casual (your friendly clerk at the supermarket checkout counter who tells you to have a nice day) to the extremely intense (there are fairly well authenticated cases of death by witchcraft in some cultures, particularly in central Australian tribes).

The first half of the movie plays like a thrilling murder trial drama.

Although there was a surprise plot twist that was good, the movie was more a character study than an absorbing courtroom drama such as 'A Few Good Men' which really had my interest in how the case would go.

Edward Norton Superb, Stunning, Amazing!

This is a movie that combines fascinating character development in a courtroom setting, and it does so very well, though not spectacularly.

This was a story that was MADE to be a movie and Norton was made to play one of the most fascinating and frightening psychopaths in movie history.

But credit should be given where it's due, especially the first hour of the film, which does a pretty solid job of setting up the film as an engrossing mix of murder mystery and courtroom drama.

Turned me on to Edward Norton's work big time as he rides the line between powerful and pure ham and holds it right on the edge.

Stunning film .

Although the story can be hard to follow at times, (mainly the south river developement story)it is still fast paced and well done entertainment.

It was entertaining, slowly pulling you in, lots of suspense, and a great twist ending.

It is also preposterous to see that Cuba Gooding Jr.'s solid performance in Jerry Maguire won the Oscar over Norton's stunning performance.

Gregory Hoblit's intriguing thriller 'Primal Fear' keeps the viewer in suspense as the mystery unravels right till the revelation in the end.

The scene between "Aaron" and "Martin" during "Roy's" appearance was riveting and revealing to "Martin" perhaps he had the wrong conviction in his belief his client was totally innocent.

Primal Fear (1996)Part Mind Game, Part Courtroom AnticsA fast paced film with Richard Gere in the kind of role he does best (an arrogant lawyer) and with Edward Norton in a startling performance as a potential criminal worth the admission alone.

The plot twist was unexpected at all.

Going up against the lead prosecutor and ex-girlfriend (played by Laura Linney), Gere takes us through the usual cliché courtroom drama that seems to be prevalent in today's crime based movies and t.

He truly is terrific, and viewing this shortly after seeing "The Score", makes for a fascinating way to see his growth.

Not believable at all, but entertaining .

It's a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the final shocking scene.

I watched it for the second time last week and was really bored.

same with the final reveal with the cliched slow clap.

It all depends if you buy it as you leave the theater.

Really breathtaking stuff.

The film is paced very well which prevents a single boring moment, very accomplished direction.

The second half of the film is much more interesting, exciting, and engaging and when Vail makes this 'discovery' about his client it becomes both a blessing and a curse for Vali in the context of defending Aaron.

I even read an early draft of the screenplay, which I thought was exciting and well-crafted.

Although Richard Gere has one of his juiciest roles in Primal Fear, the best performance by far is that of Edward Norton who got the film's only Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a stunning debut picture.

The end was so unexpected that it actually scared me, though its not 'scary' in the traditional sense at all.

However, the second hour is very compelling.

Watchable and Exciting Thriller .

Riveting courtroom drama, starring Richard Gere, with occasional flashes of action.

This movie had me on the edge of my seat from the beginning until, what i believe is one of the greatest plot twists ever in film.

Still and all, he turns in an engaging, appealing performance.

If you enjoy an engaging and involving thriller with surprises, this is the movie for you.

When Stampler's mental illness (I won't ruin it for you) is revealed to his psychologist, it is horrifying and rocks the viewer with an unexpected jolt.

Everything clicked, nothing felt forced, and yet it was shocking and suspenseful.

The second half of the film focuses more on the courtroom battle and like A Few Good Men, Philadelphia, and The Lincoln Lawyer the court room scenes are well executed and fairly engaging.

The two good looking ones are credible as people full of themselves but for the rest play uninteresting characters.

That piece of the story seemed pointless and uninteresting.

He makes it worth it to sit through the tedious flirtation between Gere and his love interest.

The storyline is basic and the outcome predictable even with the "twist" in the plot.

The first hour of Primal Fear is extraordinarily dull.

The initial two scenes are among the most boring and needlessly protracted I have ever seen.

In other words, this movie made him a star, as the cliché goes.

Norton is certainly the standout; not because he's great (though you could argue he is), but because his constant mood changes and vastly different personalities are deep and compelling.

Very powerful and gripping thriller/drama.

But with all the pieces in place in the first half, the film never quite results in the tight, suspenseful thriller we expect.

Overall this is an enjoyable courtroom thriller that only struggles in the middle with an inability to really just let rip.

That is the premise of a fascinating and riveting movie starring Richard Gere in a great performance as a do what it takes lawyer and Edward Norton becoming a star playing the accused murderer and whose performance for lack of a better word is chilling.

Unfortunately, the slow pace of the film hindered my enjoyment, and that wasn't helped by the film's over 2-hour runtime.

You take an easy story, not too flat, not too deep, just two- of three-layered entertaining.

Dark and Engrossing .

), and the second act was slow, muddled, and, when all was said and done, rife with red herrings (nothing bored me more than the talk about fluctuating real estate prices, which ultimately didn't factor in the plot's resolution).

This is an intense courtroom drama, and a very well made film that makes you think.

Tedious for the first half, exciting for the second half, and stupid for both halves .

Full of holes but still enjoyable and inventive .

It starts with a very confusing case, sheds some light on different aspects of what happened and delivers many twists to keep the audience surprised.

Although the twist at the end did cross my mind before the ending, this is still a great, thrilling movie.

"Primal Fear" delivers not only as a good courtroom drama, but it also has some very brilliant and compelling performances.

Though an overlong film, Primal Fear is rewardingly entertaining.

An intriguing, unique story, with a good star cast.

While it's far from outstanding, `Primal Fear' is a compelling and well-told courtroom drama, being more of a character study and search for justice than a campaign against the death penalty.

Gripping, thoroughly-enjoyable entertainment.

It STILL seems derivative, however, until a final twist that I found totally unexpected and surprisingly well-thought-out.

This is a pretty well-crafted courtroom drama with an unpredictable plot twist.

RICHARD GERE seemed to specialize in playing these kind of low-down heels (typecasting does have its perils), and LAURA LINNEY as the prosecuting lawyer has her hands full trying to play a game of one-upmanship against him during an intense courtroom trial.

He closes his eyelids for way too long at critical points in a scene.

Nutritionally empty .

INTENSE AND Terrific...

You can tell director Gregory Hoblit is going for a noir feel here, but it just falls flat with its uninspired characters, uninteresting visuals, and forced dialogue.