Pros: Hopkins great as always, secondary actors good, intense story
Cons: I loved every bit of it, younger viewers might not though
Dr. Ethan Powell (Anthony Hopkins) was a respected scientist and researcher who went to live in Africa and study gorillas
that is, until he went missing. Now hes been found two years later and confined in a Florida institution for the criminally insane following his brutal murder of two hunters in Africa. He doesnt speak. He doesnt respond when spoken to. Most especially, he is intensely violent and unpredictable and many at the institution feel that he is with them to stay.
Young Dr. Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is sent in to profile Powell and try to get some sense of what happened to him and where hes been. Caulder is astounded to see the way the inmate patients are forced to live and their complete lack of mental help for instance, each inmate is supposed to be allowed outside for half an hour every day, since the institution is understaffed theyve decided only to take one person out every day and decide which by handing out playing cards and whoever has the ace of diamonds gets to go outside. The problem with the cards is that every day the largest and strongest man on the block bullies his fellows until they give him the card and he is the only one to ever make it outside.
Amidst this chaos Powell starts to speak to Caulder, to tell him details of his time in Africa living amongst the gorillas, of how they took him in as one of their own and he learned how the non-human elements of the world live when theyre given the chance. As Powells story unfolds Theo begins to understand how a man who was previously so peaceful and dispassionate and who was taught what he now knows of the world by such peaceful animals could become so uncontrollably violent. Powell tries to make Theo understand what he knows of the nature of human kind and to somehow let him know where his severe hatred of humanity comes from.
Anthony Hopkins has long been one of my all-time favorite actors for his amazing versatility and his ability to be completely convincing in any roles he tries whether it be a debonair gentleman, a righteously indignant scientist, or a murderous psychotic genius. In this film he continues on in his acting tradition by playing the role of Ethan Powell like no one else could a rugged outdoor type, deep in contemplation and prone to extreme violence at the drop of a hat the character of Powell has many layers and various facets of his character that are played out flawlessly by Hopkins superior talent.
Ive always thought that Cuba Gooding Jr. was a pretty good actor not great, but pretty good, certainly not as multi-talented as Hopkins but considering hes a much younger actor I suppose well cut him a bit of slack. Goodings role in this film doesnt quite shine and is definitely of secondary importance here I think they could have gotten just about anyone to play Caulder and no one would have noticed the difference as all eyes remain riveted on Hopkins. Also in this movie are Maura Tierney as Powells estranged grown daughter and Donald Sutherland also stars.
Overall this is one of the best movies Ive seen in recent years, it intrigued me from the very beginning and kept my interest throughout with pretty much no down time. The film likes to catch your attention and keep you thinking, wondering and guessing about whats going on and why. The ending isnt very conclusive and also leaves one to think and wonder what might be happening next. Because of the excessive violence and language in the film its definitely not for younger viewers, besides the plot may be very difficult for kids to follow. For the adults, if youre looking for an engrossing drama with very good acting and an intense plot, this is definitely the one to see.