Primal Fear

Metascore
47

Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 18
  2. Negative: 3 out of 18

Where To Watch

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Critic Reviews

  1. 50
    Norton's performance and the well-paced tension preceding the movie's climactic sequence provide an entertaining if slightly predictable thriller.
  2. Gere taps into his charismatic-weasel mode, but director Gregory Hoblit fills the big screen with excellent TV actors (Andre Braugher, John Mahoney, Maura Tierney) and then gives them nothing interesting to do.
  3. 50
    Despite high production standards and a slick advertising campaign, Primal Fear is as trite and routine as any made-for-TV courtroom drama.
  4. The New York Times
    Reviewed by: Elvis Mitchell
    40
    Pared down to a farfetched plot and paper-thin motives, the story relies on an overload of tangential subplots to keep it looking busy. [3 Apr 1996, p.C15]
  5. Time
    Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    50
    Diverting without being fully absorbing, this is a film best appreciated as an exercise in--shall we say it?--Primal Gere. [15 Apr 1996, p.100]
  6. The sky-high sleaze quotient -- lascivious priests, amateur porn movies, teenage hustlers and institutionalized corruption of every kind -- ought to guarantee fun for all, but heavy messages keep poking through and spoiling everything.
  7. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    The major jolt is saved for the very end but, like much else in the film, it is overexplained and underlined when more simplicity and quiet would have provided the revelation with the power of a depth charge.
  8. The special twist-which Paramount Pictures has implored critics not to divulge-redefines the story completely. It also ruins everything.
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 132 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. Jul 27, 2013
    9
    The acting in this film is outstanding. Edward Norton was absolutely amazing and the twist really makes this better than your averageThe acting in this film is outstanding. Edward Norton was absolutely amazing and the twist really makes this better than your average courtroom drama. Really good film, kept me on the edge of my seat for sure. Full Review »
  2. May 16, 2011
    8
    A really good psychological thriller supported by some brilliant performances by the lead actors. Don't get carried away by 47% rating forA really good psychological thriller supported by some brilliant performances by the lead actors. Don't get carried away by 47% rating for critics will not appreciate a good movie even if it comes and bite their bum. Watch it to believe it and definitely don't miss the last scene. Full Review »
  3. May 3, 2013
    9
    Chock-full of dazzling "holy sh*t" moments, "Primal Fear" not only delivers intrigue as a fascinating courtroom drama would, but it alsoChock-full of dazzling "holy sh*t" moments, "Primal Fear" not only delivers intrigue as a fascinating courtroom drama would, but it also shocks you the way a gripping thriller would. Full Review »