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Cape Fear 18 rating

Scorsese’s remake of J Lee Thompson’s 1962 thriller stars Robert De Niro as a psychotic rapist out to avenge the lawyer he blames for his conviction (Nick Nolte).

Legal and Courtroom drama 1991 128 mins

Director: Martin Scorsese



Scorsese’s remake of J Lee Thompson’s thriller – about a rapist released from prison and determined to take revenge on the family of the lawyer (Nick Nolte) he holds responsible for his conviction – heightens both the sadistic monstrosity of Max Cady (De Niro) and the various failings of his intended victims.

Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck and Martin Balsam, from the 1962 original, have fun cameos, but it’s Juliette Lewis who steals the show, with a performance of thumb-sucking notoriety. While Scorsese retains Bernard Herrmann’s thunderous score, he presents clever twists on the story such as making Nolte’s character a liberal defence lawyer, targeted by Cady for perceived lack of effort, rather than the prosecutor of the original film. Scorsese may enjoy toying with the presumptions of both liberal and conservative notions of justice, but the director here is really in freewheeling mode, revelling in the story’s visceral thrills and the heightened mania of De Niro’s central performance.