Review by Smash of Smashing Through Life
Wow, what a wild ride this movie is. Going into it I had some preconceived notions about what was going to happen based on numerous cultural references, most notably the episode of The Simpsons that parodied it. But I was still pleasantly surprised. Mostly by Scorsese’s pacing, it was a lot quicker than I expected, but also by De Niro’s character. The thing that struck me the most was how intelligent and balanced Max Cady was despite his warped morality and misplaced sense of justice. I was expecting a lunatic stalker, but I got something much more complex and it was immensely gratifying.
Max Cady was driven, determined, clever, manipulative, and even charming at times. De Niro crafted a truly frightening psychopath with a deeply polarizing nature. He gives us a perfect marriage of creepy subtlety and unrestrained violence. Max may have high-brow aspirations, but he’ll seemingly always stumble over his aggressive baser instincts. De Niro wields his physicality deftly in this role, using it for brutish intimidation at times and non-threatening passivity at others. We see him overthrow three men who were hired to give him a vicious beating with raw fury and strength, and then go on to use the severe appearance of the injuries sustained to convey helpless victimization in the courtroom the following day. His cunning is impressive. In that moment he reveals himself a dangerous enemy to have, both physically and mentally.
De Niro is intimidating, unpredictable, and utterly captivating in this role. A formidable on screen presence. I rate it a solid…