Cape Fear

Cape Fear Image
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 9 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 204 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 9
  2. Negative: 0 out of 9
  1. A hypnotically engrossing thriller that spins along on the dreams and anxieties of its characters.
  2. Martin Scorsese brings honor back to the remake. He shines up this reprise of the original with original brilliance
  3. 80
    A smart and stylish remake of the 1962 suspenser.
  4. 75
    Impressive moviemaking, showing Scorsese as a master of a traditional Hollywood genre.
  5. 70
    It's a brutal, demonic film with a grip like a vise; it grabs you early, its fingers around your throat, and never lets go.
  6. An exercise in audience manipulation, with every frame designed to stagger the senses.
  7. The movie keeps insisting that the gruelling experience it's putting us through is really meant to edify us; it drags us into the mud and then tells us that we haven't got dirty.

See all 9 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Jun 23, 2016
    10
    Cape fear is universal's underrated movie released in 1991, max cady is released to have his own revenge on sam and his family, max cady is aCape fear is universal's underrated movie released in 1991, max cady is released to have his own revenge on sam and his family, max cady is a murderous psychopath to bowden family, watch cape fear 1991. Expand
  2. Jun 3, 2016
    8
    Cape Fear feels like a little different Martin Scorsese film in some respects, but still bears his trademark for compelling character-drivenCape Fear feels like a little different Martin Scorsese film in some respects, but still bears his trademark for compelling character-driven films and an incredibly noticeable religious influence on the film. Robert De Niro stars as the unhinged Max Cady and turns in a true iconic performance that lets him demonstrate his immense talent. In a career full of great performances, it is tough to say that one is better than the others, but this one has to be up there. De Niro is honestly phenomenal and creates chills like nobody else can. Nick Nolte is also quite good here and does a great job making the audience unsure on how to read his complicated character. We know he is not a good guy, but we undeniably side with him since he certainly made the right choice. That said, Scorsese is in full control here and shows his skill at creating atmospheric tension and pure suspense, more so than some horror directors out there. The only negative here is Juliette Lewis who turns in a mediocre performance among such a talented cast of actors. That said, Cape Fear is a truly chilling experience that will leave you closing the blinds and locking all the doors. Expand
  3. Mar 2, 2011
    8
    I was scared to death and too grossed out to ever watch again. DeNiro outdoes himself as a sick and twisted vengeful pig who goes after aI was scared to death and too grossed out to ever watch again. DeNiro outdoes himself as a sick and twisted vengeful pig who goes after a lawyer and his family after he is released from jail. It sounds run of the mill but isn't, to say the least. As usual, I saw this on TV so it wasn't even as violent as it could have been. Expand
  4. Aug 31, 2014
    7
    Leave it to Martin Scorsese to create one of the few remakes to surpass its original film. Robert DeNiro is dynamite alongside Jessica LangeLeave it to Martin Scorsese to create one of the few remakes to surpass its original film. Robert DeNiro is dynamite alongside Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis. Expand
  5. Apr 27, 2014
    7
    This version of Cape Fear has aged very well. Robert De Niro could carry the movie by himself, but the acting is generally good. Nothing inThis version of Cape Fear has aged very well. Robert De Niro could carry the movie by himself, but the acting is generally good. Nothing in this movie is distracting and jumps out to say that it was made in 1991. Expand
  6. Apr 4, 2016
    7
    Martin Scorsese's "Cape Fear" is a work of rippling cinematic muscle. It's a brutal, demonic film with a grip like a vise; it grabs you early,Martin Scorsese's "Cape Fear" is a work of rippling cinematic muscle. It's a brutal, demonic film with a grip like a vise; it grabs you early, its fingers around your throat, and never lets go. No one can give evil a more voluptuous surface than Scorsese; he's a dread master, and with "Cape Fear" -- his remake of the 1962 thriller with Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum -- he's delivered a ravishing thesis on the anatomy of terror. If the director has set out to horrify us, then he's succeeded, and made us laugh at ourselves for being so spooked. "Cape Fear" scares you, all right, and more -- it makes your liver blanch.

    What's puzzling about "Cape Fear," though, is why, at this stage of his career, Scorsese would set his sights so low. It's apparent by now that Scorsese can do just about anything he wants with a movie camera. His command of the medium goes far beyond technical brilliance; "GoodFellas" proved that and "Cape Fear" reconfirms it. He's got a blood instinct for hyperbolic moviemaking, so much so that the camera seems almost an extention of his own nervous system. His images hit the screen like firebombs, and the conflagration is enthralling, irresistible.

    But "Cape Fear" is far from Scorsese at his best; in fact, it's our mostinteresting filmmaker's least interesting work. It's a slasher film, basically -- Scorsese's "Nightmare on Main Street" -- and to make it work the filmmaker misuses his gifts. What's he's done here is within the reach of a hundred other directors, none of whom is in his league. He's made the ultimate drive-in movie; a feat, perhaps, but disappointing nonetheless.

    The movie premise is as straightforward as it is tough. Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) is an attorney in a small Southern town, who 14 years ago unsuccessfully defended a brutal maniac named Max Cady (Robert De Niro) on a rape charge that, after being reduced to battery, sent him to prison. At the time of his trial, Cady was illiterate, but during his imprisonment he has become a bookworm, reading literature, philosophy and, in particular, law. All the while, Cady has dreamed of taking his revenge against Bowden, whose shoddy defense, he believes, is the reason he's lost his wife, his child and a big chunk of his life. And so when Cady is finally released, he makes a beeline for Bowden's peaceful home town, looking for a little payback.

    The first sight of Cady doing push-ups in his jail cell is chilling. Sleekly sculpted and covered with apocalyptic tattoos, his body has the coiled malice of razor wire. Cady is a predator -- you can see that just from his smooth, loping gait -- and in the first part of the film, Scorsese focuses on his efforts to set up his prey. His main targets are Bowden's wife, Leigh (Jessica Lange), and his 15-year-old daughter, Danielle (Juliette Lewis); he stalks them like a panther, slowly and methodically moving in for the kill.

    De Niro throws himself into the part of Cady with unmistakable relish; playing this madman seems to have energized him and opened up the dark channels of his talent. As Scorsese and his screenwriter, Wesley Strick, have created him, Cady isn't merely a psychopath, he's a Nietzschean superman, the cruel, killing hand of justice meting out a stern, remorseless form of punishment. Nobody is more frightening in these roles than De Niro, particularly when he's as fully committed as he is here. Every movement, every narrowing of his eyes, is a threat. Pulling his face into obscene, leering grins, he gives Cady a kind of goofy suavity, especially in the long, mesmerizingly languid scene in which he sweet-talks Danielle into his confidence. At times, the characterization verges on the comic -- it's a tremendously entertaining performance -- but it's comedy mixed with cutting quality of horror. You may laugh, but it's laughter with no release -- tense, scary laughter.

    Still, you can't help but feel that both De Niro and his director have gone deeper into the same territory before, and that, in earlier films, the violence has had sturdier psychological roots. In remaking the effective but minor 1962 thriller, the filmmakers have improved on the original, but the original is still there, at least in skeletal form, and they haven't managed to transcend its limitations.

    Nolte and Lange suffer most from the script's lack of depth; they're both strong, confident, exciting actors, but their characters here don't allow them to express anywhere near the full range of their talents.

    Even here, it's impossible to be indifferent to Scorsese's work; he's a virtuoso, and for some filmmakers this movie would stand as a pinnacle work. But masters must answer to a higher standard, and, as dazzling as it is, "Cape Fear" simply doesn't measure up.
    Expand
  7. Nov 12, 2014
    5
    Robert De Niro was the only good actor in this film and his performance really wasn't that great especially compared to his other roles suchRobert De Niro was the only good actor in this film and his performance really wasn't that great especially compared to his other roles such as Taxi Driver, The Godfather Part 2, and Goodfellas. I don't really understand why he was nominated for the academy award for this movie. The plot is extremely good but the writer didn't make it as good as it could have been. I went into this movie with high expectations and it wasn't even close to what I thought it was going to be. Not a bad watch for De Niro fans but this movie isn't that special. Expand

See all 17 User Reviews

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