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Starring Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr.; Donald Sutherland, Maura Tierney and George Dzunda
Story and Screenplay by Gerald DiPego
Inspired by the novel "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn
Directed by Jon Turteltaub

By the book and not thrilling at all.
[Rated [R]]

The The press notes call him a "primatologist." The film script calls him an "anthropologist" but either way you want to play it, the first time you see the insane gleam in the eyes of actor Anthony Hopkins, you'll be thinking as Cranky did: "What's taking so long to get Silence of the Lambs II to the screen?" (Yeah, I know the book only came out last month. Trust me. You'll be just as impatient for it, now, too.) Then, screw your film student heads on for good performances in a script which promises a psychological battle but offers little in the way of surprises. The one built in surprise fell with a thud, 'cuz no one cared by that point.

If this were October, some other critic would be spouting Oscar gibberish, but as a calculated act of Summertime counterprogramming, well, there are much better "films" that you can see if you aren't in the mood for special effects laden or teen targeted popcorn flicks. [Cranky's list of those flicks is on the home page].

Somewhere in a dark Rwandan prison cell sits a disheveled man, Dr. Ethan Powell (Hopkins), held in the brutal murder of several gamekeepers. The American government intervenes and Powell is transferred to the far from idyllic Harmony Bay Correction facility in Florida. There, promising collegiate level shrink Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is sent by mentor Ben Hillard (Donald Sutherland) to do a psychiatric evaluation of the quiet man, and determine if he's nuts, stressed, or psychopathic. What do we know about Dr. Powell, other than the fact that he no longer talks? We know he wanted to hang with gorillas in their native habitat. We know that he disappeared without a trace from his base camp two years ago. So, what could have turned the good doctor into an explosively violent brute?

Oh, geez, like you haven't figured it out yet?

It gets lamer. It's no surprise that the psycho ward at Harmony Bay has a social situation remarkably similar to the jungle. The strong beat up the weak for access to sunlight. The head guard, Dacks (John Ashton) is a sadistic brute. Dr. Murray (George Dzunda), the on-staff shrink is hopelessly overworked and Warden Keefer (John Aylward) doesn't appreciate the changes Caulder brings to his finely tuned, though groaning under the weight of its overload, correctional facility. Caulder's work also brings him into sight of Powell's daughter Lyn (Maura Tierney), who has her own garbage to work out with her father.

Cranky will twiddle his thumbs while your brains figure out where that last bit is going. While you're at it, how do you think this flick will resolve the issues of man in the jungle, whether a green leafy one or the one built of concrete and bars?

You have more than likely sussed it out, 'cuz there are no surprises in Instinct. In the best tradition of scaryflicks, there are the occasional loud bursts of sound to make you jump in your seat. It's all by the book manipulation.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Instinct, he would have paid...


Rent it.

Click to buy films starring Anthony Hopkins
Click to buy films starring Cuba Goding Jr.
Click to buy films starring Maura Tierney

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.