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NEW Gere/norton/mahoney - Primal Fear (Blu-ray)
Clever twists and a bona fide surprise ending make this an above-average courtroom thriller, tapping into the post-O.J. scrutiny of our legal system in the case of a hotshot Chicago defense attorney (Richard Gere) whose latest client is an altar boy (Edward Norton) accused of murdering a Catholic archbishop. The film uses its own manipulation to tell a story about manipulation, and when we finally discover who's been pulling the strings, the payoff is both convincing and pertinent to the ongoing debate over what constitutes truth in the American system of justice. Making an impressive screen debut that has since led to a stellar career, Norton gives a performance that rides on a razor's edge of schizophrenic pathology--his role is an actor's showcase, and without crossing over the line of credibility, Norton milks it for all it's worth. Gere is equally effective in a role that capitalizes on his shifty screen persona, and Laura Linney and Frances McDormand give memorable performances in their intelligently written supporting roles. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an alternate Blu-ray edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The cast is definitely the best thing about this movie though. Gere is competent though not an obvious choice as the lawyer, yet the succession of breakthrough roles is very impressive indeed. Norton is probably one of the most versatile and compelling actors I have ever seen on screen although strangely enough is only just starting to be recognised as such, mostly choosing if not indie movies then certainly ones that are often outside of the glare of Hollywood (excepting the recent Red Dragon). Anyone who has seen Fight Club, Rounder or in particular the astounding, electric performance he puts in for American History X, can testify to this. Primal Fear is no exception, and his performance here is probably second only to his in American History X. There's also an appearance from Frances McDormand before fame hit, as well as Maura Tierny (ER's Abby, who is surely just waiting for her big break anytime soon), both in medium roles. In addition, Laura Linney proves that she has more than it takes to become a leading lady in a largely unrewarding role.Read more ›
These people aren't bowling pins that refuse to be knocked down by the final, heart rending twist. They're alive in every sense of the word, and especially Richard Gere and Edward Norton crackle with intensity and soul when in the same room.
The movie depicts Gere as a hotshot defense attorney defending Norton as an altar boy (in his impressive debut) who is on trial for murdering an archbishop. But did he do it? Nothing is as it seems, and though the court scenes have every opportunity to be boring, they never are. Laura Linney is naively brazen as a prosecutor.
Ultimately, though, it's Norton that puts the scare into "Primal Fear". Why? I'll leave that for the lucky watcher. I have never been this emotionally involved in a movie. Or maybe I have been.
Or maybe I'm "of two minds" on the matter.
"Primal Fear" is a quiet masterpiece. It's an Oscar contender at heart, hidden beneath a layer of assorted cliches and plot twists. Does that mean the movie is bad? Not by a long shot. It's terribly entertaining and splendidly acted, particularly by a young Edward Norton. It's a fine movie in almost every respect, although it has a few minor flaws that prevent it from becoming completely excellent.
In a nutshell: Norton is the 19-year-old who kills the archbishop of a church in Chicago; Gere is his attorney who takes on the case.
Gere doesn't care whether his clients are guilty or not. "I just do my job. It's not like I'm friends with them," he says. But he connects with his newest client in a way unlike he ever has before. "I think he's innocent," he tells one of his co-workers. "I think he's telling the truth."
The stuttering 19-year-old Kentucky boy has no clear motive for killing the archbishop. They are related only through the fact that he was a choirboy for the church and the archbishop had taken him in off the streets. But the clues start to connect and soon they find out that sweet ol' choirboy may have split personality disorder--his other side, Roy, comes into play when his normal side becomes hassed and hurt. The stutters fade away and an evil side shines through--an evil side that admits to killing the archbishop.
Of course, we all know that it doesn't stop there.Read more ›
Making his first major debut, Edward Norton is nothing short if terrific in the role of Aaron. He was robbed of the Oscar for doing the great job that he did throughout. Richard Gere has never given a truly bad performance, but he does go a step above his usually sleepy-looking acting style by showing some good raw emotion. Andre Braugher has always been a great actor and will continue to be a great actor, and Laura Linney shows that she's always been a fine actress (nevermind the miserable CONGO). The direction by Gregory Hoblit is great and fast-paced and I recommend that you take a look at Hoblit's FALLEN if you liked this film.
I cannot rave enough about the acting here, so I'll just stop now, but first I have to end by saying that throughout this slick film, it never gets bogged down in pretentiousness, as many courtroom thrillers do. You'll love this film all the way up until the true shocker of an ending.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a brilliant movie. Very well done. I loved the surprise twist at the end. Quite terrifying!Published 18 months ago by C.R.
superb acting ..... story is completely convincing with some facinating twists. One of Norton`s best achievements.Published 23 months ago by elizzy
By far, one of Edward Norton's best. The cunning personality of his character takes Richard Gere's character to an unexpected level. Read morePublished on Dec 15 2012 by Kate
this is one of the best murder mystery,psychological suspense films i
have ever seen.this thing will keep you riveted and guessing right down
to the end. Read more
The archbishop of Chicago has just been brutally murdered and 19-year old altar boy Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton) is found running from the scene, covered in the man's blood. Read morePublished on Aug. 9 2006 by Kona
This is a great movie with interesting plot twists?? I groaned throughout this movie. So predictable....the egotistical lawyer, his ex-lover DA, the dialogue, the acting....ughh. Read morePublished on July 1 2004 by Todd Martz
"Fui bailar no meu batel alem do mar cruel," sings modern fadista Dulce Pontes in this movie's dynamic title song: "I went dancing in my boat, there on the cruel sea. Read morePublished on June 22 2004 by Themis-Athena