In this remake of Cape Fear Robert DeNiro plays Max Cady, fresh out of the slammer after 14 years. He studies law while in prison and handles his own appeals. While researching his case, he discovers that his lawyer, Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) suppressed evidence that could have helped him get off.
Bowden lives in a small southern town with his wife (Jessica Lange) and 15 year old daughter Dani (Juliette Lewis). Cady stalks Bowden and his family, terrorizing them by his menacing presence, but careful to stay within the law. He watches their every move and keeps vigil outside their home.
Cady calls Bowden's daughter at home, pretending to be her new drama teacher. He tells her to meet him in the school theatre the net day. Of course, the auditorium is in the basement, down a dark corridor. When she meets the leering Cady, she flirts outrageously, enjoying his dangerous attention. The scene is very disturbing, especially in light of the fact that Cady was imprisoned for raping and brutalizing a 16 year old girl. When he puts his hands on her, it's enough to make your skin crawl.
After the police tell the distraught Bowden there's nothing they can do about Cady until he breaks the law, he hires a shady private eye (Joe Don Baker) to keep tabs on him.
Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck and Martin Balsam, all in the original, have cameo roles.
Director Martin Scorsese and DeNiro usually make film magic together, but they both get off the track here.
The original 1962 Cape Fear was a classic thriller with excellent acting by Mitchum (Cady) Peck (Bowden) and low key suspense. Mitchum has just the right amount of beneath-the-surface rage that erupts at the end. DeNiro's Cady is greasy, covered with tattoos and has a southern accent right out of "Hee Haw". Scorsese uses odd camera angles and flashes of black and white negative film that takes away from the flow of the story. He also drags out the final conflict so long, it not only loses its impact, it becomes tedious.
If you want to see a truly satisfying thriller, go to your nearest video store and rent the original.