Instinct

Anthony Hopkins is an incarcerated doctor with a violent past, surprising physical strength and a penchant for drawing. An ambitious youngster (Cuba Gooding Jr) is sent in to do a psychiatric evaluation, but is he up to the job?

In spite of that description, Silence of the Lambs this aint. Anthony Hopkins plays Dr Powell, who has spent years living with gorillas, making this more Dr Dolittle than Dr Lecter. Some years ago he grew very close to the gorillas he was studying and disappeared for a long time. Now back in the USA he refuses to speak as an investigation takes place into an alleged murder.

The gorillas of the flashbacks are the best pre-CGI gorillas I’ve seen, better than 2001, and certainly better than 1976’s King Kong. The animatrons look almost real, and mean that Hopkins is able to interact with them closely so that it’s completely believable.

Hopkins is great, looking like Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October or Michael Caine in Children of Men depending on the length of his hair. Gooding Jr. is also very good as Theo Caulder. There’s some very pleasant scenery and music too, as well as good prison supporting characters out of the mould of Shawshank, Escape from Alcatraz or Green Mile.

As an examination of humanity, nature and incarceration there is some interesting imagery here, and it’s a more effective examination of these themes than Human Nature. But it’s a film which always chooses being cinematic over being realistic. The characters talk in idyllic movie speak making it possible to tell how certain scenes are going to end well in advance.

This is a reasonable if not particularly subtle psychological drama which represents middling output from its distinguished leads.

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