In a role that can be considered a warm up rehearsal before
reprising his famous character of suave serial cannibal Hannibal
Lecter, Anthony Hopkins plays Ethan Powell, a renowned anthropologist
accused of murder. For many years, Powell has lived amongst the
renowned silver back gorillas of Rwanda, observing them. For some
reason this male equivalent of Dian Fossey snaps and brutally murders
two men. Imprisoned in a hell hole in Rwanda, he has refused to speak
to anyone for two years. This enigmatic scientist is then extradited
back to America, and imprisoned while awaiting an evaluation to
determine his competency to stand trial.
Eager young psychiatry student Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding jr)
is assigned the task of breaking through the doctor's reticence and
silence and determining what happened in the jungles of Rwanda.
Powell challenges Caulder's perception of the world around him, and
somehow turns the tables on the fledgling psychiatrist. He also
inspires Caulder to introduce a number of changes to the oppressive
prison system that negates the authority and abusive power of the
wardens and guards. Instinct is a taut and occasionally riveting
psychological thriller that has its flaws. Written by Gerald DiPego
(Phenomenon, etc), the film combines elements of Silence Of The Lambs,
Gorillas In The Mist and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest with many of
the clichés of the prison movie.
The plot is predictable, and the script is further let down by some
one dimensional characterisation and some clichéd dialogue.
However, Jon Turteltaub (Phenomenon, etc) directs the material with an
assurance that glosses over some of these flaws. Some scenes bristle
with an almost palpable tension. Hopkins and Gooding generate enough
sparks in their confrontations to bring some energy and a touch of
class to the film. Hopkins is superb although he delivers a mannered
performance as the tormented scientist. Scene stealer Gooding more
than holds his own here and delivers his usual polished performance.
Maura Tierney (Liar Liar, etc) has little to do as Powell's estranged
daughter, but she adds a touch of dignity and sympathy to her
performance. Donald Sutherland plays Caulder mentor, a stereotyped
role that has almost become a staple of his repertoire.
Copyright © 2000 Greg King