Kirk Douglas is Peter Sandza, an operative for a government agency "you've never heard of". When Sandza's son Robin (Andrew Stevens) begins to display psychic powers, he is entrusted to the care of fellow agent and duplicitous friend Ben Childress (John Cassavetes). The problem arises when a staged terrorist attack appears to leave Sandza dead, Robin orphaned and Childress free to twist his new prodigious protÚgÚ in any nasty John Ashcroft way he pleases.
We wouldn't have a movie if Kirk Douglas really had died, of course. What follows is old Peter's obsession with finding his son racing against Childress' obsession with wiping Peter out! Enter Gillian Bellaver (the delicately beautiful Amy Irving) in a bikini. A conveniently comparable psychic, Gillian (pronounced with a HARD G) might be Peter's only shot at finding Robin.
The film flip flops between impossibly action-packed spy thriller and slightly supernatural boarding house drama. It isn't until the final act that The Fury becomes the horror flick it has promised to be. The absence of his father, coupled with the cruel tutelage of government brain-washing threatens to turn Robin into a superpowered paranoid, increasingly jealous and angry. Meanwhile Gillian slowly learns that her gift can be equally lethal when put to use and wants only to douse the flame of their mutual powers. As the showdown comes to an unexpected crescendo, the film really pays off.
The Fury is a very dated film that looks and sounds like it was made in 1978. John Williams' creepy, Hitchcockian (or Herrmannian) score fits the film well, but occasionally falls into the conceits of the overly expressive. Meanwhile all of our leads, particularly Douglas, range between fine performances and over-the-top melodrama, sometimes within only a few seconds time. There are a few plot holes, filled with contrivances and slippery convenience. Fortunately these things taper off after the first half hour or so. It also should be noted that during this time Brian De Palma was still honing his directorial craft and finding his voice. While even in his firmest of eras he ranged between Hitchcock rip-offs and mid-range psychological thrillers, he has made some quality films in his day. Here he's still in a mode of experimentation, some of which pays off, some of which fails. While much of it works as an expansive and artistic camera's eye point of view, one must question a five minute slow-motion sequence filmed without sound, and only Williams' score to sparsely plant the sound garden. It works, but maybe doesn't work for as long as Brian intended it to.
Still, this is a good and interesting film, and recommended for fans of the genre. Those who have Scanners, Firestarter, Carrie, and even Dune should get a kick out of this, and even the book its based on. For those with a weak constitution, be wary, for the hinted-at blood of this film becomes an out-and-out torrent of chilled red toward the end. Make no mistake, Special Make-Up Effects Guru Rick Baker earned his paycheck on this one!
Film buffs will want to watch this one very closely for familiar faces. For a film that features such recognizable actors as Carrie Snodgress, Charles Durning and Joyce Easton, it's quite striking to recognize blink-and-you'll-miss-them cameos (or "extras" appearances) by Dennis Franz, Gordon Jump, Daryl Hannah, Laura Innes and even Jim Belushi! While it's well known that John Cassavetes was also a prolific writer and director, it's interesting to note that writer John Farris went on to act in three films and actor Andrew Stevens has gone on to produce such films as Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, FeardotCom, Stallone's Driven, and even Battlefield Earth. Hey, I wrote that entire line without saying a single sarcastic thing. You have to give me credit for that! He's also produced a number of Shannon "Gene's Genie" Tweed's more naked flicks! (You have to give him credit for that!)
Three Stars out of Five for the dated, yet pretty good dramatic thriller The Fury! A lot of the attitudes in this film might come off a little misogynistic and possibly slightly racist in today's society, but if you're buying some of the logic stretches in the plot of this film, you've got little room to bitch. I say, sit back, enjoy it for its merits and let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be. Now, if you'll excuse me, a telekinetic religious freak, a little blonde girl with a hand full of fire balls, the messiah of Arrakis and some dude in a vest, shirtsleeves and a black tie just showed up at my door. I don't like the look of these folks. I think that last guy is trying to blow my head open. Jerk. That's darn rude!
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