- Rated: R
- Run Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
- Video: Color
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Released: March 10, 2009
- Originally Released: 1996
- Label: Paramount
Packaging: Keep Case
- 5.1 Surround
- Dolby Digital
- English Subtitled, French Dubbed & Subtitled, Spanish Dubbed & Subtitled
• Commentary: - Commentary by director Greg Hoblit, writer Ann Biderman, executive producers Gary Luchessi and Hawk Koch, casting director Deborah Aquila
• Other: - Primal Fear: The Final Verdict
• Other: - A Star Witness: Edward Norton
• Other: - The Psychology of Guilt
• Trailers: - Original Theatrical Trailer (previously used on 1998 release)
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Memorable Quotes and Dialog:
"When your mother says she loves you, ask for a second opinion."
- Martin Vail (RICHARD GERE), to a reporter who is interviewing him.
Premiere - 12/01/1996
"...Taut thriller....[Norton gives a] hypnotic performance..."
USA Today - 04/03/1996
"...Richard Gere gives a focused performance..."
Entertainment Weekly - 10/18/1996
"...Gere's showy yet mature performance holds the movie together....PRIMAL is the most riveting courtroom drama since 1982's THE VERDICT..." -- Rating: B+
Variety - 04/01/1996
"...Well-crafted....Linney is excellent....Hoblit's direction is ultra-attentive to story points..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 04/03/1996
"...[Gere] shows what an interesting actor he can be. PRIMAL FEAR contains some of his best work..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 04/05/1996
"The plot is as good as crime procedurals get, but the movie is really better than its plot because of the three-dimensional characters."
Powerful, media-hungry Chicago defense attorney Martin Vail (Richard Gere) gets in over his head when he takes the case of an altar boy (Edward Norton making his film debut) accused of murdering an archbishop. His opponent for the prosecution is his former protege and lover Janet Venable (Laura Linney), who's out to make this her watershed case. A suspenseful courtroom with a truly unexpected ending, this drama is based on the novel by William Diehl.
Description by Paramount Home Entertainment:
A high-profile slaying becomes the case of an ambitious attorney's career in this legal thriller based on the novel by William Diehl. Richard Gere stars as Martin Vail, a famed defense lawyer who volunteers his services to Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton), a Kentucky teenager charged with the murder of a Chicago archbishop. Covered with blood, Aaron was captured after a foot chase broadcast live on TV, making a gleeful Vail certain that he could raise his profile by defending the obviously guilty suspect. Assigned to prosecute is Assistant District Attorney Janet Venable (Laura Linney), who is Vail's ex-girlfriend. Vail's case becomes more complicated than he expected when a psychologist, Dr. Molly Arrington (Frances McDormand) concludes that Stampler suffers from multiple personality disorder. Vail also uncovers evidence that the archbishop was involved in a corrupt land scheme and may have molested young parishioners. Now the cynical, opportunistic attorney is faced with a daunting prospect, a client who may actually deserve his best defense. Its shocking, twist ending made Primal Fear (1996) a big box office hit and earned Norton, in his screen debut, an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
In Chicago, an Archbishop has been brutally murdered, and a sweet-faced altar boy named Aaron -- who was seen fleeing the scene of the crime and whose clothes were soaked in blood -- is charged with the crime. Aaron claims he was present when the murder occurred, but that he is not the killer.
Coming to Aaron's rescue in this high-profile case is Martin Vail, a cocky lawyer who loves the media's spotlight as much as he loves his job. The legal road ahead of Martin and Aaron is filled with many obstacles, including a very determined prosecuting attorney (who's Martin's ex-lover), revelations about the Archbishop's "relationship" with the altar boys, and Aaron himself, who has a very violent, repugnant second personality named Roy.
Is Aaron/Roy guilty' Or is he taking the fall for someone else'
- Released theatrically in the USA April 3, 1996.
- Shot on location in Chicago, Illinois in Panavision. Prints by DeLuxe.
- Director Gregory Hoblit is well known as one of the creative forces behind the hit televisions series "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law," and "NYPD Blue."
- Soundtrack album available on Milan CD's and cassettes.
- Rated BBFC 18 by the British Board of Film Classification.