User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 36 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36

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  1. Jan 13, 2014
    A good choice for all the amateurs of drama, mystery and outstanding cliffhanger. Richard Gere's character first appears as an ambitious and amoral man, and the purpose of the film will be to let us discover his real motivations. As Hawthorne's quote said, the mains characters wears two faces: one for the public and one for the private. Gradually, as the story goes on, we assist the transformation of the peoples involved in the case, until the final revelation.
    In fact, the spectator always have the disturbing impression of watching a story where everybody is either black or grey. Manichaeism has no rights here, and that's why the characters are so interresting.
    For its view about lies, hypocrisy, violence and conspiracy in law, politics and religion, and for Edward Norton's great performance, this movie deserve to be see.
  2. Oct 29, 2013
    Great performance from Edward Norton with a combination of innocence and sadist. Couldn't think anyone more suitable playing Aaron Stampler and could radiates the same energy as Edward did in "Primal Fear". Richard Gere was great too, only him are much less than I expected.
  3. Jul 27, 2013
    The 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.
  4. May 24, 2013
    To label this as yet another courtroom drama would be far too hasty. Primal Fear has layers which are not apparent if we just look at the surface story. Its success as a film is mostly carried by Edward Norton as the naive, utterly convincing alter boy. We go with the story, on the same journey as Gere, against our better judgement; which, in the end throws up the question of what separates our belief in innocence from our susceptibility to be taken in by appearances. Expand
  5. May 3, 2013
    Chock-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.
  6. Feb 22, 2013
    Based on a best selling novel by William Diehl, Primal Fear stars Richard Gere, as a high powered defense attorney, who decides to take on what appears to be an open and shut case, just so he can get his face on Television. The case is intriguing and did what seldom movies can do, surprise me. There is an ending to this film that will just completely blow you away. As for the rest of the film, it was extremely entertaining thanks to the outstanding cast, that features both Richard Gere and a very young, Edward Norton, in one of his first roles. At the time Norton was a no-name, while Gere was the big star. Who would have thought that eventually Norton would become the bigger name? Well, anyone who saw this film and the absolutely tremendous performance Norton gives. To be honest, most court room dramas don't surprise me. You can always tell if the suspect is guilty or innocent, and there is usually some kind of twist in the story. Primal Fear was not so cut and dry, I kept going back and fourth on the suspects guilt or innocence myself. That's because this is a powerful movie, with an unrivaled cast, written by a professional novelist, as opposed to some amateur screenwriter. Primal Fear is a perfect example of what it takes to create a great movie, and after you watch it, let me know if you can figure out where the title comes from. It took me a while to get it, but eventually I did. Expand
  7. Dec 19, 2012
    Os actores falam por si, talvez o melhor papel jamais desempenhado por Edward Norton. O Thriller em si é genial, talvez um dos melhores, simples, agradável de ver, boa qualidade de fotografia, papeis bem desempenhados, personagens bem caracterizado que nos agarra á história até ao fim surpreendente que é a cereja no topo do bolo!
  8. Oct 15, 2012
    Was I alone on this? The whole point of this movie was supposed to be the shocking twist ending. But, I knew what was going to happen the entire time. No, I didn't have the ending spoiled. No, I didn't google it before watching. I knew absolutely nothing about this movie what so ever. I watched it because it was suggested as good Edward Norton film. I had other people say they were so shocked and dismayed by the ending. How is this possible? It was so obvious. I knew he was faking it 5 minutes into the first scene. Was it this extremely obvious to everyone else? Expand
  9. Sep 29, 2011
    "Primal Fear" is just a average lawyer thriller. But, as Tom Cruise did in "Jerry Maguire", it's the superb acting by Edward Norton that changes the tables of the movie's tone.
  10. May 16, 2011
    A 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.

Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 18
  2. Negative: 3 out of 18
  1. The special twist-which Paramount Pictures has implored critics not to divulge-redefines the story completely. It also ruins everything.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    As a forum for its actors and for the big-screen directorial debut of multi-Emmy winner Gregory Hoblit, the film is up to the job.
  3. Reviewed by: Alison Macor
    Norton's performance and the well-paced tension preceding the movie's climactic sequence provide an entertaining if slightly predictable thriller.