Anthony Hopkins is a brilliant actor; Cuba Gooding Jr is a talented guy with a lot of charm. Both have recently won Oscars (Best Actor for The Silence of the Lambs
and Best Supporting Actor for Jerry Maguire
, respectively); neither can make Instinct
compelling. Hopkins plays a brilliant anthropologist studying gorillas who entered into their world, becoming part of their family, and who killed two park rangers in the gorillas' habitat. Gooding plays a brilliant young psychiatrist who is supposed to evaluate Hopkins and determine whether he's fit to stand trial. Hopkins, along with a number of other psychotics, is being held at a prison, which serves to illustrate the movie's themes about control and freedom. It's not so much that the ideas themselves are hokum--nature versus civilisation is always a rich topic--it's that Instinct
boils them down to inane sound bites. Psychology is reduced to a game in which the psychiatrist's job is to trick the patient into believing the correct thing or revealing the key that will solve the puzzle. There's not a credible moment in the whole movie, despite the presence of a good cast, including Donald Sutherland and Maura Tierney. --Bret Fetzer, Amazon.com
Young psychiatric resident Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding Jr) is chosen to evaluate the mental competence of anthropologist Ethan Powell (Anthony Hopkins), determining whether he is fit to stand trial for murder. Powell has been extradited from Rwanda where he was captured by the authorities after killing members of a search party sent to locate him. It emerges that after years spent among the gorillas, Powell has adopted an ape-like mindset and rejected accepted human morality. Caulder soon realises that Powell is every bit his intellectual equal, and that exploring the anthropologist's mind may take him into increasingly dangerous territory.