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Fury Review: Dull Thriller Despite Samuel L. Jackson's Presence

Samuel L. Jackson is as reliable as ever, but he is sorely let down by Fury’s thoroughly derivative screenplay and dull direction.

rating: 2

There€™s a distinct air of cynicism around this latest Samuel L. Jackson-starring thriller from the outset; after all, why else would its international title be changed from The Samaritan to Fury other than to try and milk a quick-buck off of Jackson€™s similarly-monikered Nick Fury character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Probably hoping audiences will mistakenly assume this to be a comic book spin-off, the cynically-titled Fury is a derivative, low-energy slog pretty much from start to finish. It would be a spoiler to say which electrifying Korean thriller Fury lifts liberally from, but viewers will probably be able to guess within a matter of minutes. Jackson plays Foley, a man released from prison after a twenty-five year stint. He is a relic of a gangster; most of his friends are dead or settled out of the business, and Foley is desperate to leave his life of grifting behind. Still, some lingering loose ends see him take one last job, to rip off ruthless businessman Xavier (Tom Wilkinson), while seeing the potential for a fresh start with an attractive young woman, Iris (Ruth Negga). So yes, Fury ticks plenty of the €œstandard fare€ boxes as far as plot goes. It is a crime drama concerned with redemption and offers not a single original or particularly compelling beat. Perhaps the only curious dynamic is the scarily civil manner in which Foley interacts with Ethan (Luke Kirkby), the son of a man he once killed. It isn€™t violent or aggressive €“ at least initially €“ and in its banal nature is a little unsettling and tense. Still, if there€™s anything to praise here €“ and there€™s not much €“ it€™s really the presence of a 63-year old Jackson, somehow still convincing enough as a steely ass-kicker, decked out in a trim suit and hat. That malleable quality that has allowed him to shine in myriad unlikely roles just barely penetrates through here, but even he sometimes struggles with a script which commands easily dismissal. Jackson aside, virtually all the other constituent elements are merely pedestrian; it is just another dispassionate entry into the overdone "one last job" crime flick. There€™s the requisite femme fatale, Negga€™s Iris, a drug addict no less, though ultimately less a feisty broad and more a damsel in distress. Moreover, she€™s young enough to be Foley€™s daughter - perhaps his granddaughter, even - something which becomes slightly discomforting once he embarks on a love affair with her, and something which becomes laughably, stomach-churningly ironic later on. While the mutual dependency of the pair has some promise and sort of works, director David Weaver (who has no significant cinematic credits) opts to breeze through their relationship in a swift montage. We see them moving in within mere seconds; in ten minutes of screen time, the pair go from not wanting anything to do with each other, to wanting to €œmake a life together€. The transpiration of time is poorly handled, and the film might have served better to tend to its emotional needs rather than the trite offerings of its other main plot strand. Still, it€™s not really for much as the film lazily lifts a twist from an aforementioned modern crime classic, a bone-idle move surpassed only by the film€™s lame international retitling. Jackson does his best to throw himself into the drama, and he comes off well enough, but when the film reaches for emotional resonance at its climax €“ which it does enthusiastically €“ the pieces of the whole fail to cohere. Samuel L. Jackson is as reliable as ever, but he is sorely let down by Fury€™s thoroughly derivative screenplay and dull direction. Fury is out now in UK cinemas.
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Frequently sleep-deprived film addict and video game obsessive who spends more time than is healthy in darkened London screening rooms. Follow his twitter on @ShaunMunroFilm or e-mail him at shaneo632 [at] gmail.com.