Film Reviews, Short Review

Cape Fear (1991)

2.5/4

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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