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movie reviewmovie review out of 4

*Also starring: Maura Tierney, Donald Sutherland

Review by Greg King
3 stars out of 4

In a role that can be considered a warm up rehearsal before reprising his famous character of suave serial cannibal Hannibal Lecter, Anthony Hopkins plays Ethan Powell, a renowned anthropologist accused of murder. For many years, Powell has lived amongst the renowned silver back gorillas of Rwanda, observing them. For some reason this male equivalent of Dian Fossey snaps and brutally murders two men. Imprisoned in a hell hole in Rwanda, he has refused to speak to anyone for two years. This enigmatic scientist is then extradited back to America, and imprisoned while awaiting an evaluation to determine his competency to stand trial.

Eager young psychiatry student Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding jr) is assigned the task of breaking through the doctor's reticence and silence and determining what happened in the jungles of Rwanda. Powell challenges Caulder's perception of the world around him, and somehow turns the tables on the fledgling psychiatrist. He also inspires Caulder to introduce a number of changes to the oppressive prison system that negates the authority and abusive power of the wardens and guards. Instinct is a taut and occasionally riveting psychological thriller that has its flaws. Written by Gerald DiPego (Phenomenon, etc), the film combines elements of Silence Of The Lambs, Gorillas In The Mist and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest with many of the clichés of the prison movie. The plot is predictable, and the script is further let down by some one dimensional characterisation and some clichéd dialogue. However, Jon Turteltaub (Phenomenon, etc) directs the material with an assurance that glosses over some of these flaws. Some scenes bristle with an almost palpable tension. Hopkins and Gooding generate enough sparks in their confrontations to bring some energy and a touch of class to the film. Hopkins is superb although he delivers a mannered performance as the tormented scientist. Scene stealer Gooding more than holds his own here and delivers his usual polished performance. Maura Tierney (Liar Liar, etc) has little to do as Powell's estranged daughter, but she adds a touch of dignity and sympathy to her performance. Donald Sutherland plays Caulder mentor, a stereotyped role that has almost become a staple of his repertoire.

Copyright © 2000 Greg King

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