Film Reviews, Short Review

Cape Fear (1991)


Martin Scorsese’s remake of the acclaimed 1962 thriller directed by J. Lee Thompson does, at the very least, make some interesting changes. The original story of a prosecuting attorney terrorised by an ex-con he helped put away is changed to a defence attorney terrorised for deliberately suppressing evidence that would have reduced rapist Max Cady’s (Robert De Niro, Robert Mitchum in the original) sentence is a intriguing and surprisingly still-timely change, considering the institutional weakness of justice systems in the US against rape charges, reflecting Scorsese’s more ambivalent moral worldview—Nick Nolte’s compromised, flawed protagonist here is a far cry from Gregory Pecker’s performance as Gregory Pecker in the original. However, Scorsese’s  Cape Fear is let down by lackadaisical pacing and one crucial difference: De Niro here is trying to be evil and menacing, mostly succeeding. In the original, Mitchum simply is menacing. One acts, the other is. And that makes all the difference.


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