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Courting Disaster

The de rigueur twist that concludes Primal Fear is less worthy if only because it's so easy to see coming, especially for a viewer of Just Cause, a recent Sean Connery vehicle that follows a near-identical trajectory. The information Vail receives is meant to shake him to his very soul, but Gere shaken is so similar to Gere overjoyed (or upset, or nauseous, or whatever) that the effect is muted. He may not be able to inhabit such an ostensibly complex character, but thank God he's still got his looks.

Primal Fear. Screenplay by Steve Shagan and Ann Biderman, from the novel by William Diehl. Directed by Gregory Hoblit. With Richard Gere, Laura Linney, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard and Frances McDormand.

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