The Fury (Brian DePalma) 1978

The Fury was a movie that I had been interested in seeing for a while but never got around to.  It had so many things that should make for at the very least an interesting movie like Brian DePalma (during a good period of his career), Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, a John Williams score, and people exploding ala Scanners.  I was hoping this was some forgotten gem that I had discovered.  Unfortunately a lot of potential doesn’t hold up to poor execution.

The story is about Peter (Kirk Douglas) who is retiring from some super secret government agency.  Peter’s son Robin (Andrew Stevens) discovered he has psychic abilities and is going to a special school to learn about them.  Peter’s coworker Childress (John Cassavetes) kidnaps Robin for some unknown secret government work and Peter is on a mission to get him back.

For the first 30 minutes, I was actually well on board with this movie.  Everything was moving along with a fast pace and the story set things up as a fun adventure part thriller with Kirk Douglas evading all these secret agents.  Douglas was entertaining, Cassavetes was settling into a smarmy villain role, and everything was clicking.  Then the second act happened and things fell off a cliff.

It feels like in the second act they start a completely different movie.  Peter is looking for his son and he hears there is another girl with powers named Gillian (Amy Irving) who can possibly track Robin.  Naturally you think Peter is going to contact Gillian and they will continue the adventure.  However it seems like DePalma was still thinking he was working on Carrie and the second act is about her learning about her powers.  Gillian freaks out her school mates with her witchy powers, then she goes to this school for the gifted (which is actually a front for Childress‘ evil work), and she figures out bad things are happening.  Really this should have been at most about 20 minutes as we learn about Gillian and that she is being trapped by this shadow organization but instead this goes on for like an hour.  All during this time Kirk Douglas is completely MIA (with the exception of like one scene where he makes a phone call) and you wonder when the hell the plot will keep moving again.  Because the thing is we aren’t really learning anything new or anything that we need to know for this story so the whole narrative grinds to a halt.  Gillian will get a vision that Robin is being held against his will.  Who cares?  We already knew that.  Gillian will go all Nancy Drew and find out the school is not as it seems.  Again, we already knew that; please move on with the actual story.

By the time the third act rolls around, all the plot inconsistencies and holes we may have forgiven earlier are made that much more annoying because the poor writing calls attention to it.  First off, why the hell does Robin need to be kidnapped in the first place?  Robin was perfectly willing to go to whatever hospital/school/lab to be tested on and learn about his powers.  You are kidnapping someone who would have been a willing participant!  You may think the government captured Robin because they need his powers but we are never told what they would do with it.  There are scenes where scientists are trying to warn Childress if they keep pushing Robin that he will go on a crazy Akira like rampage but Childress brushes them off saying they need to move forward.  Why!?  What is the purpose of pissing someone off who can pop your head like a water balloon?  Sure enough Robin does go full on Chronicle and Childress acts as if everything is going to plan and we are left wondering who the moron was who was in charge of reviewing the hiring packets at the secret government agency.

When the rest of the movie was content to take its sweet ass time all of a sudden we have to rush the ending.  Kirk Douglas gets pushed onto set, Robin has a downright lame freak out (given all the build up), more plot holes like Robin can fly but then he can’t when it matters, blah blah blah then John Cassevetes explodes.  Really John Casssevetes exploding should the icing to an awesome cake filled with win it sadly is too little too late.  That bit should be made into an animated gif and you should forget the rest of the film.  This was so disappointing.  The pieces were in place and there were moments when it felt like this could have been either a fun adventure film or a nice thriller, but by the end all that good will is squandered.  The story is schitzophrenic, the pacing is all over the map, and the acting by anyone not named Kirk Douglas is pretty bad.  The Fury ends up being only mediocre which, given what this movie could have been, actually makes it worse than if it ended up gloriously bad.

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