Primal Fear

Primal Fear Image
Metascore
47

Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 130 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Guilty? Innocent? Those questions aren't for high-powered Chicago attorney Martin Vail (Gere) to decide. His job is to defend - especially if a case will put his name in the headlines and further his career. When Vail hears that a penniless altar boy (Norton) is accused of murdering theGuilty? Innocent? Those questions aren't for high-powered Chicago attorney Martin Vail (Gere) to decide. His job is to defend - especially if a case will put his name in the headlines and further his career. When Vail hears that a penniless altar boy (Norton) is accused of murdering the local archbishop, he snaps up the case, eager for the media spotlight. Little does he know that it will uncover a viper's nest of corruption, pit him against a prosecutor (Linney) who's his ex-lover, and test all his skill, judgement and even his win-at-any-cost attitude. (Paramount) Expand

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 18
  2. Negative: 3 out of 18
  1. A tight courtroom melodrama that serves up twist after twist like so many baffling knuckle balls, this film handles its suspenseful material with skill and style.
  2. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    75
    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. 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 special twist-which Paramount Pictures has implored critics not to divulge-redefines the story completely. It also ruins everything.
  5. Reviewed by: Andrew Ross
    10
    It should have been sent straight to video. As a courtroom drama, it stumbles from one ludicrous howler to another. Were the movie's "legal technical advisers" on another planet while the rest of the world was learning about legal procedure courtesy of the O.J. trial?

See all 18 Critic Reviews

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. Expand
  2. Dec 19, 2012
    9
    Os actores falam por si, talvez o melhor papel jamais desempenhado por Edward Norton. O Thriller em si é genial, talvez um dosOs 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! Expand
  3. Oct 30, 2015
    8
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. "I've never been afraid of wackos, I've always been afraid of somebody disguising themselves as a wacko." Serj Tankian. The ending was absolutely amazing! Expand
  4. Jul 21, 2014
    8
    suspenseful and twisting ...! awesome superb performance by edward norton richard gere,excellent script and direction, mind blowing ending,suspenseful and twisting ...! awesome superb performance by edward norton richard gere,excellent script and direction, mind blowing ending, one of the greatest TWIST ending Film of All Time.! Expand
  5. 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. Expand
  6. Jan 13, 2014
    7
    A good choice for all the amateurs of drama, mystery and outstanding cliffhanger. Richard Gere's character first appears as an ambitious andA 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.
    Expand
  7. Aug 17, 2014
    6
    I wish that the well-known twist in this movie had come with a little more power and wouldn't have been as predictable, but Primal Fear isI wish that the well-known twist in this movie had come with a little more power and wouldn't have been as predictable, but Primal Fear is engaging enough to work for a Saturday movie night. Gere and Norton give their characters a little more edge than what lesser actors would've done, and the story is only a few plot points short of plausible. Expand

See all 20 User Reviews

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