Cape Fear

Rated R 128 minutes 2013

It's hard to understand why Martin Scorsese wanted to remake a nasty, formulaic 1962 thriller whose only "classic" credentials are a terrifying performance by Robert Mitchum and a Bernard Herrmann score. The score has been reorchestrated by Elmer Bernstein, and Mitchum is back briefly, in a cameo that carries enough reality and conviction to blow the other actors off the screen. But most of the rest of this 1991 tale—about a psychotic ex-con (Robert De Niro) who turns up in a North Carolina town to take revenge on the lawyer (Nick Nolte) partly responsible for his long sentence, focusing on his wife (Jessica Lange) and daughter (Juliette Lewis)—has been inadequately scripted by Wesley Strick, and even as a simple genre picture it works only in fits and starts. With Joe Don Baker, Fred Dalton Thompson, Illeana Douglas, and, in cameos, two other refugees from the original, Martin Balsam and Gregory Peck.

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