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Primal Fear


Jeff Nelson

Primal Fear is worth seeing for Edward Norton's astounding break-out performance alone.

Primal Fear
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Each and every actor in the industry had to start somewhere. A majority of actors in the world start their career in smaller roles and it takes time to receive fame. The first film created for many actors are hit and miss, and not many can land a great movie as their first. I suppose Edward Norton would be considered to be in the minority here. Edward Norton's first film is Primal Fear and has maintained his career into modern times with a large variety in different genres. The actors with the leading roles are generally the ones who get the most attention from audiences. Despite Edward Norton having only a supporting role, he steals the show. Do the rest of the components of the film stand up to the greatness that Edward Norton presents?

When an alter boy is found running from a murder scene covered in blood, his conviction seems certain. An arrogant defense attorney Martin Vail steps in and the issue of the boy's possible guilt may be less important than winning the case. At a glance, Primal Fear's plot comes across as a cliché court drama. However, it proves to be quite a bit more. The characters appear to be just as trite as the plot did, although they're more than meets the eye as well. Each role is three-dimensional and the viewer sees each character develop at a steady pace throughout the film. While the ending works, I predicted it rather quickly. Those looking for an intriguing court case with a well-written screenplay will find themselves filled with joy.

From simply seeing the cast list, I knew I was in for great performances. Richard Gere and Laura Linney perform as the two opposing defense attorneys. These two actors receive the most amount of screen time. Gere is phenomenal here and feels very natural in the character. Laura Linney feels just as much in her element as Richard Gere. Both of these actors work well together on screen and were clearly cast correctly. Despite the two of them being shown the most, Edward Norton undeniably stands out above the rest. He plays Aaron, the alter boy. Even though this was his first movie, he received an Oscar nomination. I'm always glad when I can genuinely say that the acting is fantastic all around.

When the Blockbuster in my area was still open, I recall passing by Primal Fear on the shelf numerous times. The cover never jumped at me and it never caught my attention. I didn't look at any critic opinions before viewing, but dove in with medium expectations. While I wasn't sure exactly what I was getting myself into, it was a good crime thriller. This could have easily turned into a mock episode of Law & Order, but it took the courthouse drama to a whole new level. A lot of connections between the characters and the audience are made. It's a shame that there aren't very many strong court films around and many come off as tacky and overused. Primal Fear is worth seeing for Edward Norton's astounding break-out performance alone.

My Rating = Four Stars

Next movie: Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter
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