MOVIEmeter
Top 5000
Down 82 this week

Primal Fear (1996)

 -  Crime | Drama | Mystery  -  3 April 1996 (USA)
7.7
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 110,583 users   Metascore: 47/100
Reviews: 230 user | 77 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

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

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

Editors' Spotlight

Unbroken: An interview with Angelina Jolie

IMDb's Arno Kazarian chats with Angelina Jolie about working with cinematographer Roger Deaskins and harnessing Jack O'Connell's fire

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

Yet
a list of 48 titles
created 14 Dec 2011
 
a list of 39 titles
created 13 Sep 2012
 
a list of 25 titles
created 06 Nov 2012
 
a list of 46 titles
created 12 Nov 2012
 
a list of 36 titles
created 10 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "Primal Fear" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Primal Fear (1996)

Primal Fear (1996) on IMDb 7.7/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Primal Fear.

User Polls

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 12 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

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)
Crime | 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
The Score (2001)
Action | Crime | Romance
    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
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
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
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 loses a daughter.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon
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
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
Red Dragon (2002)
Crime | 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
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
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Two friends, a priest and a rabbi, fall in love with the same woman they knew in their youth, but the religious position of both men denies them romance.

Director: Edward Norton
Stars: Ben Stiller, Edward Norton, Jenna Elfman
Mr. Brooks (2007)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A psychological thriller about a man who is sometimes controlled by his murder-and-mayhem-loving alter ego.

Director: Bruce A. Evans
Stars: Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, William Hurt
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:

JPY 115,361,300 (Japan) (15 November 1996)

Gross:

JPY 197,208,300 (Japan) (6 December 1996)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Alfre Woodard's role was originally written as a 60-year old White male. See more »

Goofs

When Aaron pushes Martin Vail against the wall in prison you can see that the wall bends, showing that the wall wasn't made out of bricks or any other hard material. 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

References The Blues Brothers (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Introitus: Cibavit Eos
by William Byrd
Performed by The Voices of Christ Church Cathedral Choir
Conducted by Stephen Darlington
Courtesy of Nimbus Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Full of holes but still enjoyable and inventive
1 February 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When an altar boy, Aaron Stampler, is accused of murdering a priest, the media-friendly, arrogant lawyer Martin Vail takes the case (and the headlines). However he discovers that the boy is not all he seems and that there may have been a third person in the room when the priest was murdered. However his plea is fixed and he must work the case to turn things back to his advantage.

Years ago, the UK did a day where the Government subsidised cinemas to offer all tickets for £1. On that day I had nothing I wanted to see but I thought (like thousands other) that a saving of £3 (at the time) was too good to miss, so I went to see this film despite my caution when it comes to courtroom thrillers. The plot here is so very full of holes that it is a wonder that the whole film doesn't fall into itself, however it just about manages to succeed by being quite clever and significantly different from the usual courtroom stuff (although it does still have the same faults as the rest of the genre).

The film is a lot darker than many courtroom thrillers; first of all, Vail is not a sympathetic character - he is arrogant and conceited, and the film never really offers him redemption at any point. Likewise the climax of the film is not the usual genre twist - or rather, it is, but not in the usual way. The film's main weakness however is that it is at least 20 minutes too long. The revelations about Roy happen but then are forgotten for about 10 minutes and then raised again before being put aside again. I really can't even understand why the film feels so padded at points in the middle when really that was when the Roy thing kicks in and the film should have stepped up a gear in a flash. That it doesn't is a problem, but not an insurmountable one, as it does slowly get faster towards a downbeat conclusion that is enjoyably different from the usual Perry Mason style twist (although it is a twist).

I'm by no means a Richard Gere fan, but he does a very good job here. He never wants to be a good guy here and he plays it well. However the film is driven by a great performance from Norton, marking himself out as one to watch in coming years. His dual roles are great and the film would have failed if he hadn't been able to carry it off. The support cast is surprisingly deep with people who were either well-known at the time or became famous later. When a cast includes Mahoney, McDormand, Woodard, Linney, Seda, and Braugher then it is worth a look - although some of them have very small roles there are no weak links. However it is a credit to Norton that he stands shoulder to shoulder with all of them and is the one that sticks in the mind long after it finishes.

Overall this is an enjoyable courtroom thriller that only struggles in the middle with an inability to really just let rip. It's ironic, but I enjoyed it because it was less showy and so on when compared to others of the genre, but it could have benefited from knowing when to let go sooner. However the cast is top notch and the unlikely plot is held together by a low key Gere and a fantastic central performance(s) from Norton.


37 of 58 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:
?