The Fury Reviews

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Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ January 6, 2013
When a fledgling director has a financial hit, they are often given more money and told to do the same thing again. Sometimes this can be a good thing, even when taken to its most literal extreme, in the case of Evil Dead 2. But when Brian De Palma sought to repeat the form of Carrie, he wasn't quite so fortunate. The Fury is an odd and disjointed little film, buoyed up by its most Carrie-esque elements but also let down by the thriller that surrounds it.

Every aspect of the film's central problem can be found in the opening scene. We get a nice, comfortable dramatic opening, with a typically understated turn by John Cassavetes and Kirk Douglas downplaying things a little bit. De Palma also works in some camera tricks that are unusual but generally gel, such the nice use of panning shots as father and son sit round the table. Then the fire-fight happens, Douglas turns into an action hero, and it all gets pretty damn silly. The developments come so thick and fast that it all seems ludicrous, with first the revelation of Cassevetes changing sides and then the news that everything we just saw was staged.

For the first hour of its running time, The Fury resembles two very different films, running side by side. One film is a new take on Carrie, in which a young girl finds she has telekinetic powers - the twist being that she causes people to bleed whenever she touches them. The other is a silly thriller involving Kirk Douglas trying to track down his son, who is now being experimented on by the US government to turn him into a weapon. As charismatic as Douglas normally is, the story he's in is so goofy that for once he's not the one we want to see on screen.

The first story, involving the telekinetic girl, is very interesting. It takes the basic conceit of Carrie (a girl discovering she has telekinetic powers) and remoulds it into a similar but equally distinctive story about adolescence and teenage rage. While Stephen King's story is about a young girl rebelling against the oppressive influence of religion, this is more a story of alienation, taking things much closer to the territory of X-Men. Gillian combines Jean Grey's immense psychic power with the insecurity of Rogue, while Robin's rebellious and impulsive streak exhibits traits of both Wolverine and Magneto.

The X-Men comparisons continue by the change in setting. While Carrie is set primarily in a high school, and centres on the relationships between different teenage girls, The Fury spends much of its time with Gillian in the institute, where she is observed and tested by Charles Durning, best known for playing Snyder in The Sting. Where Carrie is isolated against her will, being already unpopular and not conventionally beautiful, Gillian consents to her special treatment on the grounds that it will help to explain her powers. But even the higher levels of security do not ensure she has control, and like Carrie there is a question up until the end of whether she commands her powers or the other way around.

This part of the film is grounded by the brilliant central performance of Amy Irving. Irving had a significant role as Sue Snell in Carrie, who wakes up screaming from a nightmare involving Carrie in the film's final scene; she clearly knows the territory very well, and draws on her experience to make this role her own. Irving plays the terror of the character so compellingly that we really feel for her even when she's causing horrible things to happen to people. It's a performance every bit as powerful as Sissy Spacek's, and that's no mean feat.

As good as Irving is, however, she has to contend with a second story which is almost parodic in nature. Even if we set aside our expectations of Douglas (i.e. at 62, he's too old to be an action star), the scenes involving his character are so over-the-top that he's almost impossible to take seriously. As a typical example, he throws off his FBI tail by breaking into the apartment of an elderly couple, rubbing mayonnaise into his hair and shoving a sofa cushion down his trousers so he can look like an old man.

Having thrown off his tail on foot, Douglas holds up a cop car, asking the two officers to drive around until he loses a car that is following him. Having been followed to the docks and lost his other tail, Douglas proceeds to drive the car into the water, and then calls up a contact from a payphone. His contact recognises his voice, but he pretends to be a heavy-breathing pervert on the off-chance that her line is tapped. There is nothing in this section that couldn't have made into Naked Gun or Fatal Instinct, right down to an unintentionally hilarious one-liner; when a cop asked what happened to Cassavetes' arm, Douglas retorts: "I killed it."

In the midst of all this, De Palma somehow finds time to work in a number of Hitchcock references. Dependent on the scene or storyline, he's either doing this to try and give the silly moments weight, or as a passing note of thanks in the midst of something important. You could argue that the FBI's pursuit of Douglas is something of a wrong man plot, and that therefore the film nods to North by Northwest or The 39 Steps. But the homages don't make the goofy scenes any less so; if anything it makes the Hitchcock motifs look like parody, as though we had wandered out of Vertigo and into High Anxiety.

Having juggled two stories up to this point - one intriguing, one utterly silly - the film starts to mesh together around the hour mark. One by one the different plot threads become intertwined in a way which makes sense on paper and comes across just about well enough to keep us in the main flow. The side effect of the stories meshing, however is that it makes us wonder how it would have been to have viewed the whole story from Gillian's POV, with her growing psychic ability causing her to slowly uncover more details of the mystery or conspiracy. That would have been more narratively disciplined and strengthened Irving's character even further.

As it is, what we get is something as enjoyably silly as The Boys from Brazil with bits of Carrie and X-Men thrown in where it can. The substance of Gillian's storyline helps to bring the sillier aspects down to earth a tad, giving some weight to Peter's predicament and a sense of pathos about the death of his son. The scene where Robin causes the fairground to malfunction with his powers would have a lot less impact if De Palma had made no prior attempt to connect his character with Gillian. On the other hand, the film never quite fulfils on the promise of Gillian's section, and for all the pyrotechnics and the John Williams score, there is a tinge of disappointment that her arc was not made the centrepiece over that of a spoilt child.

Having balanced elements of spy thriller, comic book and horror up to this point, the ending of The Fury takes things steadily further into horror territory. As Peter grows more powerful his rage manifests itself in more destructive ways, beginning with the fairground and culminating in him giving a powerful haemorrhage to the woman he loved. After the death of him and his father, there is a moment of calm before Gillian wakes up with Ben sitting at the end of her bed, about to make her his prisoner. The film then follows in Carrie's footsteps with one last big shock, only this time we are in full-on body horror territory. Gillian accepts her powers and uses them to explode Ben from the inside out, in a sequence that would have been David Cronenberg proud.

The Fury is an odd and flawed yet strangely compelling film. From a structural point of view it's as much of a compelling mess as Phantom of the Paradise, and in attempting to reconcile its storylines, it doesn't deliver quite the amount of substance we need. But it's still worth seeing, whether for the intriguing and gripping moments involving Amy Irving, or for an unintentional laugh. It's not Carrie, not by a mile, but you could do a hell of a lot worse.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
I didn't get to see the whole movie, but it seemed okay from what I saw. The story is good and pretty interesting, I really want to see the rest of this movie.
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2009
So bad it was entertaining. Plot was nearly impossible to follow, topped off with some really bad acting and script. If it was a recent film, would have turned it off in disgust, but the 70's setting gave it a kitschy quality it perhaps didn't really deserve. By the over the top ending nearly fell off my chair laughing.
Super Reviewer
½ May 7, 2007
This very watchable film from Brian DePalma is worth seeing just to see John Cassavetes explode. The meta symbolism is breathtaking.
Super Reviewer
½ March 30, 2010
It wasn‚??t the best idea to follow up Carrie with another film about psychics, but this certainly isn‚??t bad. The parallel storylines of Kirk Douglas and Amy Irving were very interesting and almost completely different in style. On the one hand it feels like a spy thriller and on the other it feels like a science fiction movie. Both tie together in a great way towards the end for a showdown with the diabolical John Cassavetes. The only real thing that brings it down is the weak character development of Kirk Douglas‚?? son who absolutely serves no purpose in the story and would have been better off dead from the get go. Technically speaking though, this is Brian DePalma at the top of his game. There‚??s a great slow motion scene that is reminiscent in style to Dario Argento‚??s Four Flies on Grey Velvet with a nice twist. I also love the use of space and the way it doesn‚??t feel like an effects driven story. Extremely beautiful aesthetically.
Super Reviewer
February 5, 2010
This one was really really good. Much better than some of his other stuff at the time.
Super Reviewer
½ September 28, 2009
Another "blast from my past" that would have beem better left to my original memory.
I remember being really impressed (and frieghtened) by this when (as a teenager) we rented it from the video store.
This time around it seemed painfully slow and at times horribly predictable.
The "cool telekinetic power" scenes that I remembered so well are few and far between, but still fun (in a chessy 70's sort of way).
Super Reviewer
March 15, 2009
Brian De Palma's follow-up to Carrie is another supernatural thriller about teens with psychic abilities. Former government agent Peter Sandza searches for his missing son, kinapped by a close associate in order to harness his paranormal abilities for evil. Along the way, Peter meets a psychic girl who aides him in his quest. Kirk Douglas's overwrought performance and seeing Carrie Snodgress, 30 years younger, play his girlfriend, are just a couple of the unintentionally hilarious bits that make this movie so entertaining. Darryl Hannah's film debut.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
November 30, 2008
The Fury is an entertaining, yet disjointed thriller that seems to be a combination of David Cronenberg's "Scanners", and a 007 Bond film. The 007 character is played by Douglas, an agent for a super-secret government agency. While living in the middle east, he's attacked by agents posing as terrorists, and left for dead. But it's his son and his son's psychic ability they're after as this agency uses psychics in their cold war battle with the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, a 17-year old girl is also discovered who has psychic powers (when she uses them, everyone around her starts to bleed profusely), and it's up to Douglas to free her while at the same time using her to find his son. Some bad editing in the first hour jumbles key plot elements, in that there seem to be holes in the story that sometimes make it unclear what is happening. I assume the film was edited down due to time constraints, but there were other, more extraneous scenes that could've been removed without affecting the story (I especially enjoyed the ten-minute "Ice cream eating" scene). Also of note is the score by the famous John Williams and it's heavy reliance on the theremin, an instrument most famous for cheesy grade B thrillers from the 40s and 50s. I can't say whether the score was good or bad, but usually when it's that conspicious and distracting from the movie, it's not a very good score.
Super Reviewer
December 4, 2007
One of De Palma's most fascinating films, this parapsychological thriller is surely the most downbeat mainstream film of the Seventies. Not a critical favourite, I actually like this one a lot. The first couple of times you watch it it just feels like a series of striking set-pieces poorly strung together, but with further viewings De Palma's virtuosity and inventive use of storytelling techniques (like CCTV, unusual back-projection, subjective camera and slow-motion) assert themselves. I can't deny that the plotting does go astray later on. Though it represents a bold deviation from audience expectation, the outcome of Kirk Douglas' final reunion with his kidnapped son cannot fail to disappoint; as with Scatman Crothers' return to the Overlook Hotel in "The Shining", you wonder why he (and you) bothered. However, John Cassavetes comeuppance at the end is worth hanging on for. John Williams contributes an excellent Bernard Herrmann-esque score.
Super Reviewer
July 30, 2007
A battle of telekinetic powers combined with terrorism. Great theme music. Imy Irving is great in this film. There's a bloody showdown at the end. The rest is somewhat forgettable. I was too young to understand the exact plot of this film, and not interested enough to re-visit it when I was older.
Super Reviewer
October 9, 2010
An enjoyable well-made thriller from the late 70s by Brian DePalma, It begins in the mid-east where Kirk Douglas in fine shape as an ex-operative named Peter Sandza, who worked for a super-secret unnamed agency for the U.S. government, Douglas delivers a solid star performance in the role, Peter is on vacation with his beloved son Robin who possesses a powerful psychic gift, he is well-played by young Andrew Stevens, also with them is a old friend and associate named Childress, superbly played by the late John Cassavetes, Peter informs Robin that he is being sent by the agency to a special institute for people who like him have a psychic ability, suddenly from the bench boats appear with masked men firing machine guns, killing many of people at the beach resort, during the shootout Robin gets separated from his father, Childress holds Robin back as the terrorist began to fire at Peter, he shouts out to Childress to get Robin away from the beach, Peter tries to get away on a motorboat which blown up by the terrorists, but survives and sees that Childress staged the attack so he could kidnap Robin, he picks up a machine gun and shoots him hitting him several times in the arm, but Childress gets away with Robin, he wants Peter's son so can try to harness his psychic powers as a weapon of mass destruction. Peter is determined to get his son back so he goes underground and disappears.
Super Reviewer
December 21, 2007
Tries to follow on from the success of Carrie but fails. Douglas is solid and there's some occasional glimpses of just how good De Palma can be, but otherwise this is achingly average.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2008
Mediocre. The entire movie should have focused on the psychic teenagers rather than deviating between that and Peter's spy-thriller story line. Furthermore, the psychic abilities of Gillian and Robin weren't developed or explained at all. Why did they have them and what did it mean? Off the top of my head, there was one good scene that played out entirely in slow-motion when Gillian escaped from the clinic (I felt bad for Hester - she was the only character I really liked). But that hardly saves the movie from almost total confusion and tedium.
Super Reviewer
December 14, 2007
Brilliant film and great to see such big actors dumbing down to a horror.
December 29, 2011
aside from some cool set pieces, an incredible final scene, an amazing score by john williams, and the fact that i still totally have a boner for 1970s amy irving, this movie is kind of a total fucking mess. i couldn't help thinking that kirk douglas must have been cast only so the movie could get funding. i also couldn't help but think that cassavetes only did this movie so he could fund "gloria" or "love streams." neither one of them are particularly believable in the roles they're cast in. also, what is it with depalma and shots of amy irving rising from slumber in big fluffy beds? spielberg jealousy?
½ February 8, 2009
A very watchable De Palma flick from the 70's, again concerned with the use of telepathic powers. Part spy thriller with its use of kidnapping and intrigue, the film moves along pretty easily and has a decent payoff as the full extent of the powers is finally revealed.

Worth a look.
July 4, 2007
An unique story structure and a wonderful cast propel this psychokinetic "Carrie" follow-up in a different direction. Amy Irving stands out in her first leading role, even stealing scenes from Douglas and Cassavetes. Sadly, the lack of action and suspense in John Farris's script doen't give De Palma enough chances to really shine. The final 20 minutes though, are thrillingly charged.
August 5, 2008
Saw this when it came out. Remember it as different, fast paced, with a herky jerky style. The most entertaining actor was Cassavetes
January 11, 2008
A pretty cool horror/sci-fi/thriller from Brian DePalma that was obviously his getting the whole "telekenetic" thingout of his system after making CARRIE. This isn't as good as that, but it does have its moments....particularly the final scene.
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