If you had the misfortune of seeing Gere in 1992's Final Analysis, you'll be familiar with the setup. Gere plays Martin Vail, a self-described bigshot defense attorney in Chicago. Laura Linney is Janet Venable, a crass and unlikable public prosecutor, who spends most of the film developing her primary character trait: being a bitch. Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton) is who the lawyers fighting over (when they aren't rehashing their 6 month-long affair), because it turns out that Aaron butchered the local Archbishop. Maybe.
And before you can say "O.J." the oh-so-exciting plot twists start coming, and these include but are not limited to multiple personalities, malingering, a pedophilic porn video, and corruption in the church and city officials. Most of it is a wild goose chase. All of it is idiotic. And worst of all, it goes on forever.
What makes Primal Fear so bad? The plot is stupid. The characters are plastic and all of them are loathsome, from the victim to the killer to the lawyers and even to the judge (played horribly by Alfre Woodard). The dialogue is ridiculous, especially in the big courtroom scenes. Hell, even the ill-fitting costumes are bad!
The only redeeming feature of the picture is Primal Fear's campy and unmeant hilarity (which starts with the title of the film), but that isn't saying a whole lot. In the end, all I can say about Primal Fear is this: be afraid. Be very afraid.
Run time: 129 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 3rd April 1996
Box Office Worldwide: $102.6M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 32 Rotten: 11
IMDB: 7.7 / 10
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Producer: Gary Lucchesi
Starring: Richard Gere as Martin Vail, Edward Norton as Aaron Stampler, Laura Linney as Janet Venable, John Mahoney as John Shaughnessy, Frances McDormand as Dr. Molly Arrington, Terry O'Quinn as Bud Yancy, Andre Braugher as Tommy Goodman, Steven Bauer as Joey Pinero, Joe Spano as Captain Abel Stenner, Tony Plana as Martinez, Alfre Woodard as Richterin Miriam Shoat, Maura Tierney as Naomi Chance