So once again we have survived.

The Fury

tn_thefuryI never got into Brian D. Palma’s THE FURY so much, but since you guys mentioned it during my SCANNERSathon I decided to give it another shot. Sure enough it’s a pretty good one with some solid DePalma slo-mo suspense sequences and some crazy shit here and there for flavoring. As you can see to your left, Kirk Douglas has a shootout in his swim trunks. He looks so manly and yet also like your dad embarrassing you on a vacation. Or like a middle school wrestling coach that makes everybody uncomfortable ’cause his balls hang out of his shorts.

I don't know, I feel like they coulda come up with a better tagline than that. Not trying to be picky, I just personally don't think this represents their best work.
I don’t know, I feel like they coulda come up with a better tagline than that. Not trying to be picky, I just personally don’t think this represents their best work.

I think my problem last time was I wanted it to be more like CARRIE. It’s weird because both have Amy Irving but in this one she’s the one with the telekinesis. Or one of the ones. But it’s not very similar to CARRIE at all. Kirk Douglas plays some kind of secret agent who gets ambushed overseas, left for dead and his treacherous buddy John Cassavetes takes his telekinetically gifted teenage son Robin (Andrew Stevens). Years later Robin is living in a mansion having his powers honed by scientists and banging the gal who’s in charge. And his dad is still looking for him, following leads and psychic tips. He finds out about the girl and convinces a nurse (Carrie Snodgress) at the government-run school she’s at to get information from her and then bust her out.

But most of the story is told from the girl’s point of view. The way De Palma illustrates her powers is really cool. In one scene she’s walking with her friend and doesn’t know about the weird guy following them, but in the middle of their conversation she says his name. It just pops into her head. And as he often does De Palma invented a new use of the filmatic language to show us her visions. She’ll be standing in a room watching something that happened in the past and suddenly it’ll cut to a shot that matches exactly but it’s the present day so the lighting is different and different people are there or not there.

One of the real suspenseful parts is when she’s watching a conversation from the past that seems real close to revealing where Robin was taken, but meanwhile in the present day somebody’s trying to get her attention. You don’t know if it’s gonna distract her and ruin everything. (or cause her to shoot a guy out of a window like when the guy gets tapped on the shoulder in SCANNERS 3).

The movie starts weirdly off-balance, with a goofy shot of Douglas and son in swimsuits laughing and wrestling. Then the whole shootout and everything has kind of a TV movie quality more than your usual slick and cinematic De Palma. I actually wondered if it was gonna turn out to be a movie-within-a-movie type opening. Then there’s two chunks of out of place broad humor, first when Douglas breaks into an apartment occupied by some bickering old folks (and one that doesn’t mind helping tie the others up), then when he gets driven around by two bumbling cops (one of them Dennis Franz). But once you get past that it’s a solid and unique thriller.

You do get to see Kirk Douglas being a funny weirdo. He has to flee his apartment in his boxers and does a parkour move jumping and swinging to the apartment across the way. Also he has a moment of maniacal glee where he brags about taking off Cassavetes’s arm: “I killed it… WITH A MACHINE GUN!” Douglas is pretty conservative if I remember right, so it was probly revenge for Cassavetes punching Reagan in THE KILLERS.

The irony here is that everybody’s trying so hard to get this kid back, but little do they know he’s turned into a total douchebag prick since they last saw him. If Cassavetes wanted to get Douglas off his trail he should’ve just offered to let him have lunch with his kid one time. Half an hour with this asshole and I guarantee you dad would give up any interest in rescuing him. He’d finally get to the moving on with his life stage.

This kid is always whining and pouting and jealously accusing his old lady of fucking every guy he ever sees her standing near. His immature lover’s quarrel causes a serious disaster on a carnival ride. When he makes his stand he really is like a scanner, complete with glowing eyes and bulging forehead vein.

When De Palma’s at his best his movies work like stone henge or something. Everything’s put together and carefully adjusted to line up with the stars and work exactly right. This is not one of those, it’s kind of a mess. But a good attempt for beginning druids. It’s not on the top of my De Palma list, but not on the bottom either. Actually, technically it’s scribbled in on the right side but later on I will redo the list and put it in with real nice handwriting and everything, in my opinion.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, July 8th, 2010 at 9:08 pm and is filed under Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

27 Responses to “The Fury”

  1. The Fury might be patchy, but the patches are fantastic. The ending where we’re given 14 or so different POV shots of the same event is notoriously rocking, but I’m also very partial to the escape from the institute. Hell, John Williams’ music makes the opening credits more involving than most movies’ finales.

    Which writer pointed out that this is the movie that made Pauline Kael literally coo and moan in ecstasy during the screening? Even if she was easy for de Palma … respect.

  2. I’m pretty sure it was David Thomson who wrote about attending a screening of this movie while Pauline Kael while was in the audience.

  3. I’ve been meaning to watch this movie for a while

  4. I haven’t seen this film, but man, if like Vern says, Douglas does goes through all this trouble – years of heartbreak and searching – only to discover that his son is a complete and total prick who wasn’t worth any of the time and effort… well that alone is worth a Amazon price.

    Good review.

  5. This is one of the worst movies i have ever seen. It bored me to death, had terrible acting and the story made no sense at all. I hated this.

  6. Verbal Hooligan

    July 9th, 2010 at 4:56 am

    I can’t believe Vern didn’t mention the hotness that is a teen Darryl Hannah. She’s one of Amy Irvings classmates.

  7. The Fury is a great movie to watch. Literally. The plot and dialogue aren’t very good but the easthetic of the film is great.

  8. Inspector Li – Didn’t Kael also catch flack from her colleagues because she said that whole muted street gunfight sequence was just as good as anything Hitchcock ever made? Except I think she’s right.

    Its a good movie. Not great, but a solid fun entry that isn’t brought up with DePalma like a SCARFACE or DRESSED TO KILL or that Chicago movie, the sort you check out from the video store in the old days without knowing much and surprisingly enjoying yourself because well it was a surprise. No Internet to pimp it to death.

    Best bit though was the ending. KA-BOOM! I wish more movies ended like that instead of fucking dull meandering epilogues. Reminds me of FRENCH CONNECTION II in proving that you don’t need that Epiloguecitis.

    Also, kickass underrated John Williams soundtrack. Hell I think in that Best of Williams CD soundtrack, FURY is on there. But no BLACK SUNDAY, which is another underrated Williams soundtrack.

  9. Off-topic Vern, but what are your two cents on the LeBron James circus, televised clood blooded murder of Cleveland last night? That was awesomely cruel.

    Anyway, another point I forgot to add: DePalma claimed he did THE FURY, almost right after CARRIE, because he wanted more practice with the telepathy shit before he tackled THE DEMOLISHED MAN, a legendary sci-fi, avant garde-inspired sci-fi novel (holy grail book for telepathy I guess) but either he never could figure out what how to do it, or THE FURY scorned Hollywood off funding more DePalma telepathy movies.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Demolished_Man

  10. Hey Vern, have you ever seen the Kirk Douglas/Burt Lancaster crime comedy TOUGH GUYS, which also has Eli Wallach in it?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRsj3YjwGg0

  11. Since we’re talking about telekinesis and mind powers here , I will mention Spontaneous Combustion with Brad Dourif . That one is about Pyrokinesis , but I think a triple feature of Scanners , Carrie and Spontaneous Combustion is a good idea for a “Psychic Movie Marathon”. After all , you’re in the hands of Cronenberg , De Palma and Tobe Hooper !

  12. This film would have been better with Michael Douglas instead of Andrew Stevens. And with a better coreographed opening, something like the pool-hall scene in Carlito’s way.
    De Palma himself should remake this film.

  13. Kermit: Not surprisingly, SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION has some fine, fine mega-acting from my boy Brad Dourif. It was inevitable that he would hook up with Tobe Hooper, who for a while there had a real knack for getting even the mega-est of actors to out-mega themselves. The most obvious example is Dennis Hopper in CHAINSAW 2, but there’s also Neville Brand in EATEN ALIVE. That’s the kind of acting that’s so mega you start to fear for the safety of the actor attempting it, not to mention any innocent bystanders in his immediate vicinity.

  14. Some people I know still consider Tobe Hooper as a “very lucky guy”. He got the first one right (TTCSM), but not much else. You know , like Carpenter has some good ones , but he’s not really this pillar of contemporary cinema , plus he has lost it? I fucking disagree . He’s the director of TTCSM 1 and 2 and Poltergeist , plus I like a lot of his “minor” movies. Holy shit ( maybe this is old news for you guys , but I didn’t knew it ) he has also directed the pilot for Freddy’s Nightmare , the origin story of Freddy with Robert Englund himself ! There’s a Nightmare “movie” directed by Hooper! Holy Shit !

    Oh… and yes , he also has a very good eye for Mega-Actors , like the almighty Brad here. You know , we need to keep track of all mega-acting related performances , in case Vern wants to write a book about it . Like “Stephen King: On Writing” but cooler…
    “Vern : On Mega-Acting”.

  15. Hooper and Englund have been working together for a while now. They did a Masters of Horror episode that, while taking a bit too much from Tony Scott’s post-The Hire playbook, showed that Hooper can still mega-direct the shit out of a mega-actor like Englund.

    I am also a big fan of Hooper’s THE FUNHOUSE, a film that seems like a standard slasher flick set at an amusement park but gets a lot weirder, more depraved, and, most surprisingly, more sympathetic toward its slasher than you’d expect. I think it’s a minor gem that’s just begging to get reevaluated.

  16. Nice review. Kirk Douglas’ son in the film (Robin) may be an asshole, but the tragedy of the film is that he was stolen from his father and then manipulated and abused ever since. Therefore, he is immature, but that is because he’s never been given a fair chance to grow up. Not only that, but the people who have kidnapped him (through manipulation) have encouraged his fury in an attempt to harness his power for their own purposes.

  17. That’s it , then , I will check out The Funhouse !

  18. Thanks, W.S. – that sounds right.

    RRA – if the comment and flap isn’t true, it’s certainly got the truthiness. The whole Team Hitchcock/Team DePalma thing has always bugged me. No one should demand a pat on the head for finding Hitchcock roots in DePalma, but a lot of smugsters did and left it at that – “I recognize a source! The latter work sucks, and I rule!” DePalma’s far more than a copycat, and it’s not like his work ever intended to supplant Hitchcock … amirite?

  19. Inspector Li – The irony is that DePalma’s biggest cheerleader in pissing on idiots for that hypocrisy is….Quentin Tarantino. Sure QT gets slapped here and there occassionally for his “thievery,” but not generally discredited as DePalma is.

    Sure maybe the reason is that QT’s filmography is much more consistent, or perhaps that QT is so openly honest about where he steals shit while DePalma is traditionally either cagey or try to change the subject in an interview when the Hitch shit comes in.

  20. Love this movie. This film is a fantastic collection of set-pieces. It’s brazenness and courage comes from the philosophy of the sum of its parts becoming greater than the whole. And, for me at least, it works.

    Each sequence has it’s own visual hook. (As G.C. says) I will repeat that because it sounds vaguely important… The filmmaker bothered to think about, and design, a new visual idea for each sequence. Imagine that. I mean, why not do that, after all you ARE making a movie. Yet today this concept seems to be out of fashion, as filmmakers blanket their entire movies with one (usually obvious) visual idea; everything is blue, everything is washed out, everything is handheld, everything is jump cut; to convey a rather juvenile concept; this is REAL, this is GRITTY, this is RAW. When once upon a time we had filmmakers who would consider themselves ‘Asleep at the wheel’ if they were not cooking up new cinematic ideas for every sequence, usually derived from what was the emotional/dramatic dynamic of the scene.

    In short, it is the HIGH CONCEPT notion of story and script infecting visual design and temporal construction.

    Yeah, so, uhh, I like The Fury. One of the greatest endings ever too, by the way.

  21. The Funhouse also has a nice set of boobies in the opening scene.
    So there’s some motivation. Boobies.

  22. Yo siempre todo el tiempo cada vez que se utiliza para leer
    pieza de escritura en los periódicos , pero ahora ya que soy
    un usuario de internet web por lo tanto a partir de ahora estoy usando neto artículos , gracias a Internet.

    \

  23. Watched this for the first time last night. Didn´t know what to make of it during the first hour, but by the end of it the film won me over. What a fantastic showcase of technical setpieces with the cinematography , editing and some other clever technical gags. And the score by John Williams is phenomenal!

    The plot is pretty unwieldy to say the least, but man I can´t believe I waited this long to actually see it. I loved it!

  24. Also, the reason the kid turned into a “total douchebag prick” is because of the experiments. I think that should be mentioned.

  25. Kirk Douglas turns 100 this day! That is amazing! And I thought Michael Douglas was getting old. It reminds me of the Mendelbaum family on Seinfeld in which the youngest one was 80 years old.

  26. Yeah this is definitely lesser De Palma, but it’s still got some inventive and show-offy setpieces that make up for its flaws. Mainly, the interminable Dennis Franz comedy bit that goes on and on and on and does nothing but pad the runtime…. Speaking of which, Irving meets Douglas WAY too late in the film, and it’s funny how *SPOILER* the final scene with her captured by Cassavetes seems like the beginning of the third act (or even a whole other Firestarter-style movie), but nope, it’s the end.

    And maybe it’s from watching too many superhero movies, but it’s strange how the whole movie (looked through 2017 eyes) seems to be building to a showdown between the good person with superpowers and the bad person with superpowers, and then it weirdly never happens. I’m sure they’ll add that if and when they ever remake this movie, and I actually wouldn’t mind – not only is it more satisfying, but there’s something kind of powerful about the whole movie being a Taken-style search for a person who unbeknownst to the heroes is actually the supervillain of the piece.

  27. This one is kind of a boring ride, but at least it leaves you smiling. There aren’t five movies with a better last 10 seconds than this one.

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