Instinct Movie Review

Essentially a formulaic John Grisham drama with shrinks instead of lawyers,"Instinct" is the kind of ostensibly cerebral project that attractsbig talent with challenging central characters, but ultimately never risesto the level of its stars because everything else is pure paint- by- numbers.

It stars Anthony Hopkins as another caged and dangerousgenius (call him Hannibal of the Apes), an asylumed primatologist accusedof murdering a pair of poachers in Rwanda two years after abandoning humanexistence to live among a clan of African mountain gorillas.

Cuba Gooding, Jr. play a cocksure, ambitious Universityof Massachusetts psychology resident (with fatherly Donald Sutherland fora mentor) who is in over his head trying to treat Hopkins, but who seesthis misunderstood maniac as an opportunity to rocket himself into a prestigiouscareer.

Most of the film takes place in prison therapy sessions,during which Gooding tries to draw out the man buried under Hopkins' animalinstincts.

The first sign that this movie is going to be a let-downcomes with the fact that this task is disappointingly easy. For a couplemeetings, Hopkins just sits there looking feral with his unmanageable graymane of split ends and his wild eyes, saying nothing (although he doesattack Gooding a couple of times just to make the audience jump).

But very quickly and without much encouragement he becomescoherent and loquacious, narrating a lengthy but somehow still rushed seriesof flashbacks that recount -- in an avalanche of cheap symbolism and ironicallyinorganic atmosphere -- his going gorilla and the events leading up tothe (obviously justified) killings.

Naturally, Gooding is pretty proud of himself at this pointand thinks he's in control, but once his patient starts speaking, theirrelationship becomes a psychological battle, and -- as we know from "Silenceof the Lambs" -- when you're playing mind games with an Anthony Hopkinscharacter, you're gonna lose.

Directed by Jon Turteltaub ("Phenomenon")and suggested by a Daniel Quinn novel called "Ishmael" ("suggestedby" usually means the movie takes wild liberties with the book), "Instinct"is an engrossing idea that succumbed to the fallacies of Screenwriting101. You can see the intelligent story struggling to get out, but its beenrestrained and sedated by the rigidity of the prefabricated script, whichironically disparages structure and control.

In such scripts, there must be messages put forth (freedom,nature good; prison system, modern man bad), lessons learned (helping peopleis more noble than blind ambition), moments of triumph (asylum prisonerslearn to assert themselves as the soundtrack swells) and moments of tearfulrevelation ("You taught me how to live!" cries Cuba).

But in trying to shoehorn in all this generic pap, Turteltaubmisses the boat on what should be driving his movie -- the personalities.The overrated Cuba Gooding, Jr. ads little uniqueness to his characterand brings no depth to his emergence from his world of blind ambition.Hopkins, while well cast, gives a vague performance that is more esotericthan it is intelligently abstract. He never gives his character a sensefeeling lost in civilization after being dragged from his natural homein the jungle.

Even though it's peppered with logical loopholes and otherinconsistencies (Maura Tierney, as Hopkins' daughter, is a bitter, pent-upchain smoker who turns practically cuddly in later scenes), had "Instinct"shaken off its Grisham-esque recipe, it might have been the movie theseactors probably thought it would be when they signed on, several re-writesago.

But the way it turned out, it's merely proof that two AcademyAward winners do not a good movie make.


Comments

Instinct Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, Friday, June 4, 1999

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Not Enjoying The View: Joy Behar Steps In As The Voice Of Reason After Elisabeth Hasselbeck's Comment

Wait, what’s happening over on The View? This is meant to be our...

Not Enjoying The View: Joy Behar Steps In As The Voice Of Reason After Elisabeth Hasselbeck's Comment

Maroon 5 - Maps (Explicit)

There's trauma for Adam Levine in the gritty short film for Maroon 5's newest single 'Maps'...

Maroon 5 - Maps (Explicit) Video

North Korea's 'The Interview' Complaint May Give Seth Rogen Better Publicity Than Money Can Buy

North Korea has filed an official complaint with the UN regarding the...

North Korea's 'The Interview' Complaint May Give Seth Rogen Better Publicity Than Money Can Buy

Ed Sheeran - Sing Single Review

Known for his diverse musical delivery having employed various elements of R&B, hip hop, folk and...

Ed Sheeran - Sing Single Review

Is JK Rowling's Pottermore Update Hinting That More 'Harry Potter' Stories Are On The Way?

The buzz over J.K. Rowling’s latest Harry Potter offering is showing no...

Is JK Rowling's Pottermore Update Hinting That More 'Harry Potter' Stories Are On The Way?

Brad Pitt, Filming 'World War Z' Sequel, Enjoys Culinary Delights Of. Wimpy?

There are times when everyone, no matter how rich, famous or...

Brad Pitt, Filming 'World War Z' Sequel, Enjoys Culinary Delights Of. Wimpy?
Advertisement

Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea - Problem Single Review

Former Nickelodeon actress Ariana Grande has landed her very first number one alongside Iggy Azalea with...

Ariana Grande - Problem Single Review

The Definitive Guide To Watching The Emmys (When Your Favourites Got Snubbed)

Few moments are more important in television than Emmy season. Like...

The Definitive Guide To Watching The Emmys (When Your Favourites Got Snubbed)

5 Reasons Why You Need To Go See ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ This Weekend

Matt Reeves’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes invades US theatres...

 5 Reasons Why You Need To Go See ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ This Weekend


More recommendations

Advertisement