Primal Fear


Primal Fear Review

It's been a long time since a really bad movie has come down the pike, but it had to happen eventually. This time up, it's Primal Fear, yet another badly-titled Richard Gere-as-a-lawyer flick that will keep you groaning in your seat when you aren't busy laughing at the unintentional humor.

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.

Primal Fear

Facts and Figures

Run time: 129 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 3rd April 1996

Box Office Worldwide: $102.6M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures

Reviews 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 32 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew



Starring: as Martin Vail, as Aaron Stampler, as Janet Venable, as John Shaughnessy, as Dr. Molly Arrington, as Bud Yancy, as Tommy Goodman, as Joey Pinero, as Captain Abel Stenner, as Martinez, as Richterin Miriam Shoat, as Naomi Chance