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Primal Fear

HD   R Closed Captioning

Gregory Hoblit

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About the Movie

A high-profile slaying becomes the case of an ambitious attorney's career in this legal thriller based on the novel by William Diehl. Richard Gere stars as Martin Vail, a famed defense lawyer who volunteers his services to Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton), a Kentucky teenager charged with the murder of a Chicago archbishop. Covered with blood, Aaron was captured after a foot chase broadcast live on TV, making a gleeful Vail certain that he could raise his profile by defending the obviously guilty suspect. Assigned to prosecute is Assistant District Attorney Janet Venable (Laura Linney), who is Vail's ex-girlfriend. Vail's case becomes more complicated than he expected when a psychologist, Dr. Molly Arrington (Frances McDormand) concludes that Stampler suffers from multiple personality disorder. Vail also uncovers evidence that the archbishop was involved in a corrupt land scheme and may have molested young parishioners. Now the cynical, opportunistic attorney is faced with a daunting prospect, a client who may actually deserve his best defense. Its shocking, twist ending made Primal Fear (1996) a big box office hit and earned Norton, in his screen debut, an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 43
  • Fresh: 32
  • Rotten: 11
  • Average Rating: 6.7/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: 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. – Mike Clark, USA Today, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

One of the best movies ever!

This is one of the best movies I've ever seen. Edward Norton gives an amasing proformance in this fast paced thriller. Richard Gere is also great! This film will have you on the edge of your seat and the ending will knock you out of your chair! Do your self a favor and watch this film

This Film Is Carried By Edward Norton

This movie is watchable. I liked it. So much so that I even read the book. But, to be honest, Edward Norton is the Tom Brady of this movie. The star. He carried the success on his shoulders. This film would not work at all without his breathtaking breakthrough performance as Aaron (or Roy). It really foreshadows the kind of characters he played as his carrer progressed. Without Mr. Norton, this film would sink into nothingness. This movie gets three stars out of five. Norton's perfomance, however, is off the charts.

Excellent Film

This is a great thriller and Edward Norton really steals the show. Ironically, not the first time that Ed has played a mentally handicapped person... see also The Score starring Robert Deniro.

Primal Fear
View in iTunes
  • $14.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 1998

Customer Ratings