...then you'll find much to love about Martin Scorsese's remake of film noir classic CAPE FEAR. There are some superb performances here, from a clearly-enjoying-himself Robert De Niro, whose terrifying portrayal of Max Cady remains a career high point, to Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis (in her breakout performance), Illeana Douglas, Joe Don Baker (having fun in every scene), Sen. Fred Thompson, and the wonderful trio of Robert Mitchum, Martin Balsam and Gregory Peck (all of whom appeared in the 1962 original).
But beyond great acting, Scorsese assembled some of the greatest talents of 20th century moviemaking to aid him on this picture. Rather than try to top Bernard Herrman's original score (and who could? it's one of the scariest pieces of movie music in history!), Scorsese asked the great Elmer Bernstein to adapt and embellish, and the result is brilliant. His cinematographer is the legendary British director Freddie Francis, who helmed so many blood-curdling Hammer horror flicks in the Sixties and Seventies, and more recently known for his gorgeous cinematography on David Lynch's THE ELEPHANT MAN and THE STRAIGHT STORY. And as usual, Scorsese employs Thelma Schoonmaker (the "editor's editor") with him in post-production, telling the story flawlessly.
Working from a ghoulish, morbidly funny script from Wesley Strick, Scorsese turns CAPE FEAR into a widescreen, Technicolor-hued tribute to early '60s melodramas, but adds a much darker sense of danger and suspense. De Niro's wronged convict comes after Nolte's family with a righteously Biblical cause of revenge and retribution, and proceeds to tear what little semblance of civility the family had for each other into shreds. CAPE FEAR is not a feel-good picture by any means, but it certainly is a wild ride, and a visceral experience provided by masters of the form. Recommended for fans of Alfred Hitchcock, Sergio Leone, and Sam Peckinpah.