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Richard Gear Movies: The Primal Fear Movie Review

Updated on August 12, 2013

Top Rated Richard Gere Movies

Official Primal Fear film cover
Official Primal Fear film cover | Source

Primal Fear Trailer

Primal Fear Movie Review Starring Richard Gere

The Primal Fear Movie begins with a prominent Archbishop being murdered at his house. The police are in hot pursuit of an altar boy, played by Edward Norton, who is found escaping the scene of the gruesome murder. He is covered in blood when the police find him underneath a train tunnel.

Richard Gere plays a Chicago lawyer named Martin Vail who defends the altar boy named Aaron Stampler, charged with killing the Archbishop. Gere is a hot shot lawyer who takes the case pro bono because of the high publicity it brings. When his ex-wife, played by Laura Linney, is assigned to prosecute the case, it adds an interesting twist to the case.

Once trial starts Vail pulls out every trick in the book for his client. One of these tricks is a psychiatric evaluation which leads to some interesting questions about who the real Aaron Stampler is, and who really committed the crime. These tricks maneuver the trial in the young Aaron Stampler's favor. He is definitely winning in the beginning of the trial as Vail makes a case for a third person in the room at the time of the killing and raises doubt in the minds of the jury. The prosecution has yet to come up with a motive for the crime. No motive, a sweet and innocent alter boy on trial for murder, and one of the best lawyers in the industry, how can Aaron Stampler lose?


A captivating Primal Fear scene between Richard Gere and Edward Norton

Edward Norton as Aaron Stampler in Primal Fear

A cool Edward Norton movie. One of the best performances of his entire career.
A cool Edward Norton movie. One of the best performances of his entire career. | Source

The Introduction of "Roy"

A sex tape comes into play that turns the case upside down. This tape features the archbishop, Norton, and two other guests. Gere confronts Aaron about the sex tape and gets introduced to “Roy”, Aarons other personality. Needless to say this breaks the case wide open. The psychiatrist believes Aaron is suffering from multiple personality disorder and does not deserve the death penalty. But unable to change the plea from not guilty to not guilty by mental defect, Martin Vail is left to reach into his bag of magic lawyer tricks.

With Vale’s other client showing up dead in the river, the current state’s attorney placed on the witness stand, are among many other twists and turns that go on throughout the film. When Aaron takes the stand, the movie comes to a dramatic end and a surprise ending that will raise your eyebrows.

Primal Fear Full Movie

Movie Analysis

Richard Gere delivers a great performance. His tremendous acting skills are showcased throughout the film. He captivates the character of a two-faced high profile lawyer and outputs it onto the screen very well. The emotions of anger, love, loneliness, and intelligence, are all portrayed with such realism.

Edward Norton's performance is my personal favorite of the bunch. This is one of the best flims with Edward Norton in it. He had to utilize every ounce of his acting talent in order to pull of the multi personalities of his character. His portrayal of both Roy and Aaron skyrocketed Edward Norton's career into the successful actor he is today.

Besides the movies plot and everything, I was left in such awe of this Edward Norton movie. This was his first big screen film and it could go down as one of the best movie debut's by an actor in history. If your a movie fan then you must watch this film for Edward Norton's performance alone.

With that said, the flick itself was excellent as well. This is a murder mystery thriller that keeps you tuned in from beginning until end. There is never a dull moment in this one. With so many twists and turns, Primal Fear keep you guessing and scratching your head until the very end.

Richard Gere as Martin Vail in Primal Fear

Aaron Stampler and Martin Vail in the courtroom.
Aaron Stampler and Martin Vail in the courtroom. | Source

Review of Cast and Director

Directed by Gregory Hoblit (Hart's War, Fracture) - Did a great job with Primal Fear. One of top movies ever because he really brought out the best of all of the actor's in this mystery thriller.


  • Richard Gere (An Officer and a Gentleman) (Pretty Woman) - Martin Vail - Richard Won a Golden Globe for his performance in Chicago. He may be best known for his role in Pretty Woman opposite Julia Roberts.
  • Laura Linney (The Truman Show) (Mystic River) - Janet Venable - Laura grew up in theatrical seasoned family because of her dad. She has been nominated for three Oscar's and just completed the highly anticipated film The Fifth Estate due out October 2013
  • Edward Norton (Rounders) (American History X) - Aaron Stampler - Edward stormed onto the acting platform with his outstanding performance in Primal Fear. From what I have seen, his other performances besides American History X, have not come close to his awesome performance in Primal Fear.

Other Movies With Richard Gere


Some of the best movies with Richard Gere include:


Pretty Woman - Richard Gere plays wealthy businessmen who falls in love with a prostitute. A kind of ironic and unique concept. He stars opposite Julia Roberts in this romantic thrill ride.

An Officer and a Gentleman - Debra Winger won the Oscar for best actress for this film. A unique tale of military love and tough military training in order to become a successful aviation pilot for the Navy. One of my mom's favorite movies of all-time.

Brooklyn's Finest - Plays a retiring cop who ironically falls in love with a hooker once again. A fabulous movie that represents a modern day Shakespeare with its intriguing ending.

The Mothman Prophecies - Where he plays a reporter who investigates visions, and other paranormal events within a town in West Virginia.

The Jackal - Starring alongside Bruce Willis and Sidney Poitier, this amazing thrill ride about a highly trained assassin who is hired to kill high ranking officials will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

First Night - Also with Sean Connery and Julia Ormond, a classic love tale of Sir Lancelot and the soon to be wed bride of King Arthur, Guinevere. A tale of in-house fighting and fighting outside the kingdom.

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