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Quick Review - Universal's Cape Fear

There is nothing in the dark that isn't in the light. Except fear.

Cape Fear is a 1991 neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Wesley Strick, produced by Amblin Entertainment, Cappa Films, and Tribeca Productions, and distributed by Universal Pictures. It's based off of John D. MacDonald's 1957 novel, The Executioners. The film stars Nick Nolte and Robert De Niro. It was nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, but did not win either. This is a remake of the 1962 film of the same name.

"You're gonna learn about loss." - Max Cady


Defense attorney Sam Bowden faces a disturbing reality when convicted rapist Max Cady is released from prison. Cady's personal vendetta with Bowden allows him to stop at nothing to destroy everything that the lawyer holds dear.

Cape Fear Quick Thoughts

Cape Fear is one of Scorsese's slightly overlooked films. I haven't heard much about this movie. Everyone says it's good, but it isn't talked about as much as I think it would be. It's an extremely effective chiller that showcases De Niro's wide range and talent as an actor. He is terrifying. He brings all of the charismatic fun that he usually brings to his roles but he adds this extra psychopath layer that makes him one of the scariest villains I've ever seen.

Everything in here is executed really well. It's a solid thriller with a great story and an incredible villain. De Niro aside, the other performances are fantastic. Nick Nolte, Juliette Lewis, and more are all great. Combine all of those great performances with Scorsese's incredible and tense direction, and you've got an extremely well done psychological thriller.

There are some things about this film that don't sit with me very well. The characters in the movie are sometimes dumb to a point where you don't believe it. It feels like they could go to the police at most times during this movie and that would solve everything, but they don't do that, and it's frustrating. There's some other instances of dumb choices that really pull you out of the movie, and that just takes away from the overall experience.

Final Thoughts and Score

Cape Fear is a great thriller that showcases the magic of De Niro and Scorsese's collaborations.

I will go Sweet here. Age range is 15+.


Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)

Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)

"Cape Fear"

Fun Factor: 9/10

Acting: 9/10

Story: 8.5/10

Characters: 8.5/10

Quality: 8.5/10

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Rated R for strong bloody violence, frightening themes and images, sexual content, language, thematic elements

Released on November 15, 1991

2 hours and 8 minutes

Nick Nolte as Sam Bowden

Robert De Niro as Max Cady

Jessica Lange as Leigh Bowden

Juliette Lewis as Danielle Bowden

Joe Don Baker as Investigator Claude Kersek

Robert Mitchum as Lieutenant Elgart

Gregory Peck as Lee Heller

Illeana Douglas as Lori Davis

Zully Montero as Graciela


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