(1996)

Critic Reviews

47

Metascore

Based on 18 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
80
A tight courtroom melodrama that serves up twist after twist like so many baffling knuckle balls, this film handles its suspenseful material with skill and style.
75
USA Today
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.
50
Norton's performance and the well-paced tension preceding the movie's climactic sequence provide an entertaining if slightly predictable thriller.
50
TV Guide Magazine
The sky-high sleaze quotient -- lascivious priests, amateur porn movies, teenage hustlers and institutionalized corruption of every kind -- ought to guarantee fun for all, but heavy messages keep poking through and spoiling everything.
50
ReelViews
Despite high production standards and a slick advertising campaign, Primal Fear is as trite and routine as any made-for-TV courtroom drama.
50
Time
Diverting without being fully absorbing, this is a film best appreciated as an exercise in--shall we say it?--Primal Gere. [15 Apr 1996, p.100]
50
Chicago Reader
Semiabsorbing.
40
The special twist-which Paramount Pictures has implored critics not to divulge-redefines the story completely. It also ruins everything.
12
Rolling Stone
You'd get more of a jolt from Angela Lansbury on "Murder, She Wrote" and more intellectual stimulation from a cozy game of Clue.
10
Salon.com
It should have been sent straight to video. As a courtroom drama, it stumbles from one ludicrous howler to another. Were the movie's "legal technical advisers" on another planet while the rest of the world was learning about legal procedure courtesy of the O.J. trial?

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