Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

When people talk of "a Hollywood film", they mean one in which all the buttons are pushed and every cinematic cliché stands proud. Instinct fits the description to a tee, except, instead of Sean Connery in the lead, it has Anthony Hopkins, who cannot help acting his socks off.

Ethan Powell is Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas In The Mist. Unlike her, when the going gets poachy, he fights back and brains a couple of ape killers. Now he's incarcerated, refusing to speak, wearing Connery's white wig from The Rock and displaying a caged cat attitude towards authority. Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding Jr) is an ambitious psychiatric student, who is given the task of unlocking the primatologist's mind and discovering what happened out there in the jungle. Ethan's daughter (Maura Tierney) is on hand to stir things up a bit, but finds herself used instead as emotional side salad.

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The prison is a carbon copy of every repressive hell hole on celluloid, with fascist bullies (guards) and lovable crazies (inmates). Essentially, the film is a two-hander, in which stale ecological rhubarb, concerning the rape of the world by "takers" (you and me) and the quality of natural life, is chewed over.

Gooding and Hopkins give it the works. They are really trying. Pity the script (Gerald DiPego of Message In A Bottle) lets them down. As for the ending, even aficionados of the Hollywood film will blush.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Instinct packshot
A psychiatric student tries to find out what makes a killer ape expert tick.
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Director: Jon Turteltaub

Writer: Gerald DiPego

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Donald Sutherland, Maura Tierney, George Dzundza, John Ashton, John Aylward, Doug Spinuzza, Paul Bates

Year: 1998

Runtime: 126 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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