This cast is absolutely loaded with “oh it’s you!” moments. Abby Lockhart, what are you doing in Chicago this early? Captain Holt, were you ever really so young? Martin Crane, you’re better than this. John Locke, why did you ever shave off that ’tache? And there’s the screen debut of Ed Norton, of course, the blood-spattered altar boy found running away from a butchered bishop.
That set-up suggests one obvious route to wring some serious drama out of the proceedings, but Primal Fear doesn’t quite take the predictable path you expect. It’s also a healthy amount of ridiculous, mind you, but in a way that complements the absurd courtroom theatrics on display. Gere, who I’ve never particularly loved, does decent work as the lawyer who repeatedly tells you he doesn’t care about the truth of the case and has enough charm to make you buy for the runtime that his tactics wouldn’t have had him disbarred years ago.