7.7/10
128,250
241 user 82 critic

Primal Fear (1996)

Trailer
2:28 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

ON DISC
An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
1,428 ( 13)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Identity (2003)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rain-storm, ten strangers become acquainted with each other when they realize that they're being killed off one by one.

Director: James Mangold
Stars: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet
Mystic River (2003)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

With a childhood tragedy that overshadowed their lives, three men are reunited by circumstance when one has a family tragedy.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon
Rounders (1998)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A young man is a reformed gambler who must return to playing big stakes poker to help a friend pay off loan sharks.

Director: John Dahl
Stars: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Gretchen Mol
The Game (1997)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Wealthy San Francisco financier Nicholas Van Orton gets a strange birthday present from wayward brother Conrad: a live-action game that consumes his life.

Director: David Fincher
Stars: Michael Douglas, Deborah Kara Unger, Sean Penn
Fracture (2007)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An attorney, intent on climbing the career ladder toward success, finds an unlikely opponent in a manipulative criminal he is trying to prosecute.

Director: Gregory Hoblit
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, David Strathairn
25th Hour (2002)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Cornered by the DEA, convicted New York drug dealer Montgomery Brogan reevaluates his life in the 24 remaining hours before facing a seven-year jail term.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Edward Norton, Barry Pepper, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Red Dragon (2002)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A retired FBI agent with psychological gifts is assigned to help track down "The Tooth Fairy", a mysterious serial killer; aiding him is imprisoned criminal genius Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter.

Director: Brett Ratner
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing.

Director: Neil Burger
Stars: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti
The Score (2001)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An aging thief hopes to retire and live off his ill-gotten wealth when a young kid convinces him into doing one last heist.

Director: Frank Oz
Stars: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Marlon Brando
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Two Boston area detectives investigate a little girl's kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally.

Director: Ben Affleck
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Casey Affleck
Insomnia (2002)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Two Los Angeles homicide detectives are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn't set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A partially idealized film of the controversial pornography publisher and how he became a defender of free speech for all people.

Director: Milos Forman
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, Edward Norton
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Shaughnessy
...
...
Molly
...
...
Bud Yancy
...
Tommy Goodman
...
Joey Pinero
...
Abel Stenner
...
Martinez
...
Archbishop Rushman
...
Naomi Chance
...
Alex
...
Jack Connerman
Edit

Storyline

Courtroom thriller about a slick, hotshot lawyer who takes the seemingly unwinnable case of a young altar boy accused of murdering an eminent catholic priest. Written by Jonathan Broxton <j.w.broxton@sheffield.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Don't believe everything you see... See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief grisly violence, pervasive strong language and a sex scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

3 April 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Iskonski strah  »

Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$293,515 (USA) (26 July 1996)

Gross:

$56,059,267 (USA) (16 August 1996)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Both Wil Wheaton and Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the part of Aaron Stampler. Wheaton turned down the role because he didn't want to put off his acting school and when his manager urged him to take the role anyway he told him "It is like Luke Skywalker when Yoda told him not to go and save his friends but to stay on Dagobah and learn to be a Jedi instead. Luke didn't listen to him and that's why he never became true Jedi master." Later Wil Wheaton regretted turning this role down, saying that this was a crucial factor why his career never got to be a successful one. See more »

Goofs

Martin's bottle of water changes position on the table beside him between shots as he watches TV. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Marty: On my first day of law school, my professor says two things. First was; "From this day forward, when your mother tells you she loves you - get a second opinion."
Jack Connerman: [chuckles] And?
Marty: "If you want justice, go to a whorehouse. If you wanna get fucked, go to court."
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Teri Hatcher/Dave Matthews Band (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

As Time Goes By
by Herman Hupfeld
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The birth of a star and the resurrection of another
8 May 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's not often that viewers get a chance to watch a star being born - that a talented unknown actor's performance that is so spectacular it leads to the A-list in one role is rare: Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise to name a recent few. But Edward Norton's turn as the "defendant/victim" in Primal Fear is one of those "Wow" moments that leaves the audience salivating for his next performance. In this feature debut, Norton outdistances his role, as does Richard Gere, in a resurrection no less impressive than Norton's star-making turn. Heretofore, Gere has specialized in assorted intelligent professional cad roles. Here, he gets a chance to inhabit one that not only wears his dubious character on his sleeve, but wears it, drives it, drinks it... revels in it. Yeah, sure somewhere there's a heart of gold, but like his client, the layers on top serve him better, and the heart of gold is tarnished. Gere is at his peak, comfortably, cheerfully inhabiting the role.

Laura Linney deserves extra credit for often being the ice-queen foil which propels the two male characters' development; her own character is rather one- dimensional, but she herself squeezes as much dazzle as she can from it. Even though everyone else obviously falls for whatever Gere's Vail purrs into their ears, it's merely enough time for Linney's Janet to get a drag on her ubiquitous cigarette; another step in what will (hopefully) someday be film's love affair with her. Wasted, sadly, are fine character actors like John Mahoney, Steven Bauer, Maura Tierney & Andre Braugher who could have lit up the screen had they not been handed scripts with generic character stereotypes.

See it to watch the ascension of Norton and Gere.


115 of 133 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Sick and sad message oregondanne
Plot hole??? ladyvengeancemusik
Did they ever find Linda's body? cylindroid
And the oscar goes to.... phi413
Who was the 'real' Aaron? ddb540
Meaning of the title...? mattdavefenton
Discuss Primal Fear (1996) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?