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"PRIMAL FEAR"
(1996) (Richard Gere, Edward Norton) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Heavy Heavy Mild Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Mild Moderate None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Moderate None Heavy Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A hot shot defense attorney defends a teen accused of killing the Archbishop of Chicago.
PLOT:
Marty Vail (RICHARD GERE) is a hotshot defense attorney who will defend anyone (regardless of whether he thinks a client is innocent or not). He gets his next big chance when a Chicago Archbishop is brutally murdered, and one of the altar boys, Aaron Stempler (EDWARD NORTON), is the prime suspect. To makes things more interesting for Vail, his ex-flame and ex-coworker, Janet Venadle (LAURA LINNEY), heads up the prosecution. Twists and turns and interesting development follow as the case makes its way to the courtroom.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Maybe. Gere is the only possible draw and not that strong with the younger set. A courtroom murder mystery drama might draw older teens.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For brief grisly violence, pervasive strong language and a sex scene.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • RICHARD GERE plays a defense attorney who doesn't care about his client's guilt or innocence, but instead focuses on how their case will affect his career.
  • LAURA LINNEY plays an honest and hard working prosecutor who must go head to head with her former coworker and lover.
  • EDWARD NORTON plays the bewildered teen accused of murder who turns out to be more than he seems.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • In almost every scene where the main characters are away from working on he case, theyíre in a bar drinking.
  • In one scene, Vail appears to be trying to get drunk at a bar.
  • The judge pours herself and the two lawyers a drink after a traumatic experience.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • A bishop's fingers are cut off.
  • A visit to the crime scene shows bloody footprints leading up to a very bloody and quite dead Archbishop. There are stab wounds all over his body (from the 78 stabbings) and his eyes have been gouged out.
  • We later see photos of the dead man.
  • In another visit to the crime scene, blood stains are still seen everywhere.
  • In a fight, one of Veilís assistants pulls an earring from an assailant and blood spurts out.
  • A puffy and discolored dead man is pulled from the water and has a bullet wound in his neck.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Obviously the murderer has the wrong attitude.
  • Vail doesnít care about his clients or their guilt or innocence. He just cares about making the big win.
  • A man makes fun of Aaronís stuttering.
  • The archbishop actively encourages sexual encounters between his altar boys and others.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Thereís not much that's really scary. A few chase scenes are suspenseful and visiting the murder scene is more gross than scary.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Knife: Used to cut off the Archbishop's fingers (seen), and then to stab him 78 times (not seen, except for photos of the results and there is much talk about the violent act).
  • Knife: Thrust at Vail but misses.
  • Handgun: Used to subdue an altar "boy" (a man in his late teens/early 20's).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Ignoring the murder and sex scene(s), there isnít much here that kids would want to imitate.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • The Archbishop is surprised by a knife suddenly coming down on his hand.
  • Veilís assistant is investigating a room when a figure suddenly comes out and attacks him.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There are several chase scenes that have suspenseful music accompanying them.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 65 (give or take one) "f" words (two used in a sexual way), 22 "s" words, 5 "ass" words, 4 damnís, 3 slang terms for male genitals (the "d," "p," and "c" words) and 1 for female genitals (the "c" word), and 1 use of crap as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • There is a reference to a sexual relationship as a "one night stand that lasted six months."
  • Aaron is asked whether he had sex with his girlfriend. He says yes, but only with her. When asked if she was having sex with anyone else, he doesnít answer but acts very uneasy.
  • A man talks about getting his girlfriend pregnant.
  • There is talk of sex on a videotape and of another altar boy having sex with Aaronís girlfriend.
  • There is sexual activity seen on videotape: Aaron, his girlfriend, and another altar boy are given sexual directions by the Archbishop. One pulls off the girlís shirt revealing her breasts. She pulls down the pants of the other altar boy (his bare butt is seen) and then performs oral sex on him (not actually seen, but there's enough to imply whatís happening). Then the Archbishop tells Aaron to "take the girl from behind."
  • A man tells Janet (about Vail), "I know you were balling him" (having sex).
  • SMOKING
  • Janet smokes throughout the movie (mainly, it appears as a reaction to stress) and other people are seen smoking in the background of other shots.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Murder & the Death Penalty.
  • An Archbishop encouraging and videotaping sexual relations among his younger members.
  • Mental disorders, as in split personalities (that are attributed to an abusive father).
  • VIOLENCE
  • A raised knife slices down and cuts off the Archbishopís fingers and blood spurts everywhere. More violence is seen from outside as a body is repeatedly smashed up against the windows. We're later told the Archbishop was stabbed 78 times.
  • Vailís assistant is attacked in a room and the two struggle until the assistant yanks an earring from the assailantís ear.
  • Aaron attacks Vail in an interrogation room and pushes him up against the wall.
  • Aaron jumps from the witness stand, punches Vail and grabs Janet around the neck and puts a choke hold on her while holding the police at bay.



  • Reviewed April 5, 1996

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