7.7/10
128,179
241 user 82 critic

Primal Fear (1996)

Trailer
2:28 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

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
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 has a family tragedy.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon
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
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
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
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
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
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
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

The exterior police station where Martin Vail goes to see Aaron Stampler is the same exterior police station used for the TV series Hill Street Blues (1981) - for which director Gregory Hoblit was producer and director. See more »

Goofs

It is stated by several characters that a plea cannot be changed mid trial. However, it is entirely possibly to change a plea before sentencing. 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

Remade as Deewangee (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Chez What
Written & Performed by Steve Porcaro
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Not just another court room drama
26 January 2005 | by (Tessenderlo, Belgium) – See all my reviews

I was convinced that "Primal Fear" would be the type of courtroom drama that Hollywood seems to use to pave the streets with. You know what I mean: Someone gets wrongly accused of some mischief, he can't pay a lawyer, but of course there is one who is really interested in the case and he is prepared to defend the poor guy anyway. The defender finds some wholes in the police investigation or in the statement of the other party and knows to prove the innocence of his client and even get a big indemnity. Well, I was wrong, for once this was a courtroom drama that had a bit more to offer than the usual story line and twists. In fact, this was even a very enjoyable movie.

Even though I'm not really a fan of Richard Gere (I'm not a woman, so no I don't like him because the way he looks, I only look at his acting), I have to admit that this time he really did a very good job as the slick, media-friendly, arrogant lawyer Martin Vail. Still, in my opinion the real star in this movie is Edward Norton. He's really excellent as the altar boy who is accused of murdering a Catholic bishop.

For once the story isn't as predictable as usual. At first the case seems rather clear: an altar boy is running away from the home of the bishop, with blood all over his clothes. No doubt about it you think, he did it, case closed, next movie! But than the first interesting twist in the movie appears: Yes, he was at the murder scene, but he can't remember anything about the grisly murder, because at that exact moment he got a blackout. He's convinced that there was a third person in the room. That third person must have killed the bishop, he's innocent. His lawyer tries to prove the third man theory in the court room, but as the process comes nearer to the end, some new evidence will make everything a lot clearer and more interesting...

As I already said, this movie is more than just worth a watch, thanks to the rather innovative story line and characters. For once, this movie didn't annoy me more than I could ever like it. That's already worth a lot, so I give it a well deserved 8/10.


111 of 135 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:
?