So hopefully every week, or everyother week I will highlight a film from the 90s that I have seen for the first time. Recently I've realised there are so many, it's time I get around to seeing them. I'd like to consider my "Se7en" review last week a part of this, I just never thought of making it a weekly thing at that point. May even get into the 80s one of these days. Anyways we will start this off with Martin Scorsese's remake of the 60s classic "Cape Fear".
Max Cady (Robert De Niro) has been released from prison after serving a fourteen year sentence, and is stalking his former defense attorney, Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte). After fourteen years of prison Max Cady has improved himself, he has brought himself out of ignorance and is now literate and as knowledgeable as any lawyer about the laws of society. He uses this to stalk his target in such a way that he is not prosecutable by any court, and at the same time making sure to drive a deep sense of fear into Sam and his family.
This movie is now my all time favourite Scorsese film, previously Raging Bull. The truth about it is that I don’t think that the story is that much better than most of Scorsese’s other films [i.e. “Goodfellas” “Raging Bull” or “Casino”], but what really entranced me and drew me into this movie so much was that this is Scorsese not being the regular Scorsese. He has filmed this like a 70s thriller. Very suspenseful and puts you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole movie.
You can tell the throw back directing by all the crazy angles that Scorsese follows these characters [especially Nick Nolte’s character] as a way of making us know that we need to be paranoid and afraid of every corner. He even uses filter colours in the movie to show complete and utter shock and sometimes even negative images. This is just amazing. This is kind of film techniques that made people fall in love with the suspense/thriller genre, and the lack of them in today’s cinema shows why we get bored quickly with the more recent additions to the genre. If only Hitchcock were still around.
One of the best things about this movie is the psychopath Max Cady. His character is so amazing. Here is this illiterate southerner who is convicted of raping a sixteen year old girl. During his time in prison he educated himself. As he is released he begins to stalk the lawyer, Sam Bowden, and harass him. Sam has forgotten all about him and then he shows up with this evil nature around him. He can feel nothing but paranoia after figuring it all out. Everything that Sam tries to do [legally and illegally] backfires on him and only works to the favour of our favourite ex-con Max Cady. Cady drives Bowden to a complete meltdown and will turn him into an animal. One thing I love so much is that if it weren’t for the unmistakable face of De Niro you wouldn’t even know it was him. He completely submerges himself into this role, and his accent is an amazing touch to the character. I’ve seen a few of these roles recently, where we have this completely crazy character and the actor pull it off so well we can’t just stop and admire the actor [i.e. Kevin Spacey in “Se7en”, Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men” and Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”], and this one ranks up there for me in amazing performances.
The acting here is brilliant. This is one of the reasons Robert De Niro is considered one of the top actors ever. It is great to see him in this role as a vengeful ex-con. The film definitely doesn’t side with Max Cady as a justified hero, but at the same time it also gives you reasons not to side with the supposed victim of a defense lawyer Sam Bowden. I think I may be going on about De Niro’s performance I bit too much, especially with such a great performance from Nick Nolte as well. Even the feature of acting legend Gregory Peck as Lee Heller, which I’m sure was not coincidental since he played Sam Bowden in the original 1962 version of this film. Nick Nolte embodies this character that is drenched in fear and at the same time results to hasty things out of desperation.
Overall, if you are a De Niro, Scorsese, suspense, thriller fan this is a must watch. I can’t believe it took me so long to see this one [saying it again], but as usual I’m so happy I took the time to do so.
IMDB says 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes says 76%
I say 9.0/10