Written by Mr. Mouseburger 6th Feb 2009
Defence lawyer Sam Bowden bit off more than he could chew when he agreed to represent Max Cady, a serial rapist (played brilliantly by Robert De Niro). An attack of conscience is a dangerous thing in the legal profession, and against his better judgement, he buries a piece of evidence to ensure the Cady, who is blatently guilty of the crime, goes down.
With nothing to do in those long hours in prison, apart from be "some hillbilly's wet dream", Cady studies law and realises that his attorney had misrepresented him all those years before. Several years later, when Cady is released, boy is he peeved. So begins a sustained and increasingly menacing series of incidents against Sam Bowden, his family and work colleagues.
Sam is rightly concerned for his family, in particular his naive daughter, Dani, who Cady has been "grooming", and so having failed in attempts to bribe and intimidate Cady out of their lives, he takes his family out of town and onto a river boat on the appropriately named Cape Fear. Now, if i was in his position i would be choosing a boat on the more tranquil Lake Cute-Fluffy-Bunnies, but apparently the irony is lost on Sam.
Still, getting out of town seems like a sensible thing to do until we realise, thanks to some nice camerawork, that Cady has managed to sneak along for the ride, strapped to the chassis of the Bowden's car. For the first time in ages, the Bowdens feel like they can let their guard down, when POW! Cady strikes, taking Sam out with consumate ease, and leaving the two women helpless.
It is clear that those years in a correctional facility did absolutely nothing to reform this grotesque character, as with Sam helpless, Cady prepares to rape both his wife and daughter in front of Sam. However, he really should have waited to light the cigar in a post-coital celebration as no sooner has he lit the damn thing that quick thinking Leigh (Sam's wife) throws lighter fluid over him. Needless to say he lights up like a Christmas tree, and runs out of the boat and dives into the water in a desperate attempt to extinguish the flames.
That is the end of that then. Yeaaaah right. Cady is not going to die so easily. In the meantime a violent storm (you have just got to love the symbolism) has kicked up and a squall has released the houseboat from his moorings and is milling about the Lake. It is not shown how Cady stays with the boat, after diving in, but we are led to belive that he clung on to the mooring rope. So Cady is back, a little bit more charred than before, but as resolute as ever.
At this point Cady makes a fatal mistake. Instead of just killing the family and exacting his revenge, he decides to prolong things by making Sam stand trial for misrepresenting his client (Cady) all those years ago. All the while the storm is getting more and more violent, and a particularly powerful squall causes the boat to disintegrate, just at the moment that Cady was about to kill Sam. This unbalances Cady, and makes him stumble towards Sam. Seizing the opportunity Sam lunges at Cady and the pair struggle.
The frustrations of the past few days/weeks give Sam extra strength and he beats Cady to a pulp, handcuffing him to the railings of a piece of the boat. Sam then flees and leaves Cady floating on the lake. As he sinks into the water Cady calls out to his "counseller" (an epithet he has used throughout the film to Sam), before finally sinking under the water.