Primal Fear

1996 was a huge year for hard hitting dramas with Primal Fear and Sleepers both being released. Primal Fear is a movie that for some reason, I had never seen until recently. I had heard how great it was, but my wife being shocked that I had never seen it decided we were going to watch it. I am so glad that I had not had this movie spoiled for me in the nearly 30 years since it was released as this was truly gripping stuff.

How to Download Primal Fear

Primal Fear was released on April 5, 1996. You can download or stream the film from a digital platform. Click on the Download button at the end of this review and make your choice.

The Movie Review

Edward Norton’s Breakthrough Performance

I would also learn that this was the first theatrical role for Edward Norton. Edward Norton’s performance here is nothing short of staggering and it is no wonder his career took off the way that it did after this. You know, I now wonder if it was this performance that got him the roles in stuff like American History X and Fight Club.

A Gripping and Twisty Plot

I am going to try and be vague here with the plot as it does have some insane twists. The basics are that a young man called Aaron who was an alter boy for the beloved Archbishop Rushman is charged with the Archbishop’s murder. Aaros says that he did not do it, but he does have bouts of memory loss where he cannot recall what he has done or what happened to him.

Richard Gere Shines as the Defense Attorney

While this is a major red flag, celebrity hound defense attorney, Martin Vail takes the case on as he loves the spotlight. Martin is played by Richard Gear and he is captivating here as he always is. He truly is one of the all time greats and this is some of the best stuff that I have seen from him.

Laura Linney’s Strong Supporting Role

The case though is complicated. While Matin is the defense attorney for Aaron, he is going up against Janet Venable as the prosecutor who he had a thing with. Laura Linney plays Janet and while from what I have heard over the years it is always Edward Norton and Richard Gear getting the praise for this movie, Laura Linney is great as well.

An Intense Courtroom Drama

This is a very complicated case and it has so many twists and turns. I am not going into spoilers here, but there is some truly shocking and messed up stuff. The movie moves at a very quick pace and for such a dark and disturbing story, the just over two-hour runtime never feels like it drags.

A Must-Watch for Drama Enthusiasts

If you love court dramas and dramas that are hard-hitting, you are in for one hell of a ride with this. The ending gave me chills and it is honestly some of the best stuff that I have ever seen Edward Norton do and with a career as epic as his that is saying something. I am shocked that it took me so many years to get around to watching this, but I am glad that I did.

Paramount Plus and 4K Release

In case you are wondering, I watched this on Paramount Plus. However, I loved the movie so much that I have ordered the 4K release which I hope has some great features and extra content. I will probably wait a while to watch it again, I do wonder though now that I know the couple of big twists the movie has will the impact be as hard-hitting on a repeat viewing?

Primal Fear
Primal Fear is a gripping 1996 legal thriller starring Edward Norton and Richard Gere, known for its intense plot twists. Download it now.
9 Total Score
Primal Fear Review Summary

Sound & Music
  • The acting in this movie is so real and believable
  • The twist knocked me for sure
  • This is hard hitting stuff that is pretty shocking
  • I was entertained from start to end
  • It may be a bit brutal for some people
  • Not sure how repeat viewings will be when I know the twist
User Rating: 4.5 (2 votes)
Paramount Pictures
Publisher Website
Operating System
full movie online
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Jason Delacey

Jason Delacey

Jason is a 40-year-old writer from Northern England. He has been playing video games his whole life and writing about them for over a decade. As well as enjoying gaming into the wee hours of the morning, Jason is a real film fanatic too! He is open to watching all genres of movies from animated singing animals to brutal horror!

Jason loves to give his honest opinion on games, movies, TV shows and is always willing to give anything a try!

Favorite Games: Resident Evil 4, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, Bioshock Infinite, Super Mario World, The Last of Us, Halo 2, Streets of Rage 2, Overwatch.

Favorite Movies: Terminator 2, The Empire Strikes Back, Avengers Infinity War, Bloodsport, The Transformers The Movie. Dogma, BASEketball, From Dusk Till Dawn

Favorite TV Shows: X-Files, Supernatural, Lost, American Horror Story, The Mandalorian, Stranger Things.