The new psychodrama
Instinct tells the not very
compelling tale of Dr. Ethan Powell (Anthony Hopkins), a primatologist who kills some African game wardens after disappearing into the bush with his furry study group. Convicted on the Dark Continent, Powell is saved by the feds and shipped back to the States, where he falls under the care of Dr. Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a shrink who’s imagining a bestselling case study long
before he meets his patient. Caulder gets Powell to tell him about the murders, but he quickly loses control of their sessions, as Powell rants about the evils of “taking” (Instinct‘s shorthand for the rat race,
civilization, whatever). As
directed by Jon Turtletaub (the equally dippy Phenomenon), Instinct moves along at a
competent clip, but it’s mostly a tease, suggesting that Hopkins is a Lechter-ape when he’s
really more of a nature-loving Shaolin monk. The absurdities pile up, like Gooding’s constant, earnest demand that Hopkins tell him about “the jungle.” Not that show-me-the-money man should have any expertise in such matters, but it wouldn’t have killed Instinct to acknowledge there’s something curious about the white-haired Hopkins teaching the woolly-haired Gooding Jr. about humanity’s African roots.