Base 'Instinct' Anthony Hopkins Plays a Primatologist in a Thriller That Apes Better Films

By Gire, Dann | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 4, 1999 | Go to article overview

Base 'Instinct' Anthony Hopkins Plays a Primatologist in a Thriller That Apes Better Films


Gire, Dann, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Dann Gire Daily Herald Film Critic

"Instinct"

* *

Screenplay by Gerald DiPego. Produced by Michael Taylor and Barbara Boyle. Directed by Jon Turteltaub. A Touchstone Pictures release. Rated R (violence, language). Running time: 126 minutes.

Cast:

   Ethan Powell   Anthony Hopkins
   Theo Caulder   Cuba Gooding Jr.
   Ben Hillard      Donald Sutherland
   Dacks      John Ashton
   Lyn Powell      Maura Tierney

No, "Instinct" is not the sequel to "Silence of the Lambs."

I can see why people keep asking me that. In TV commercials for "Instinct," a crazed Anthony Hopkins beats people up and scowls menacingly through jail-cell bars, just like he did as Hannibal Lecter. You expect him to whip out a pocket knife and a can of fava beans, then have some hapless supporting cast member for dinner.

Nothing like that happens in this muddled, pretentious psychological drama in which a pudgy, modern-day Tarzan kills a couple of Rwandan guards on a gorilla preserve and no one knows why.

Theo Caulder wants to know why.

An ambitious, budding psychiatrist, Caulder (Cuba Gooding Jr.) realizes that if he can get eminent primatologist Dr. Ethan Powell (Hopkins) to talk about his experiences living with a gorilla family for two years, and to reveal why he murdered two guards, he would have an instant best seller and a guaranteed career.

Except Powell won't talk. To anyone. About anything. He stands or sits in the perversely named Harmony Bay prison compound along with other mentally disturbed criminals. Aloof and disconnected, Theo finds Powell living in some unreachable inner world.

Theo tries everything he can to break through to Powell. He appears to be failing, until he shows Powell a photograph of his daughter, Lyn (Maura Tierney), and asks what he wants to say.

"Goodbye," Powell says.

Theo goes crazy with self-congratulations. "I can get inside him now!" he shouts.

Theo soon realizes that inside Powell dwells a whole world of pain and sadness. …

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