Thursday, April 11, 2019

THE FURY (1978) movie review

The Fury (1978) d. Brian De Palma (USA) (118 min)

Though on the surface, De Palma could be accused of returning to the telekinetic well a little soon following his smash hit Carrie, John Farris’ adaptation of his own novel expands the tapestry far beyond the small-town concerns of misfit teenagers and into full-blown international government conspiracies and training grounds for potential assassins. (If that device sounds similar to Scanners, it is... and it preceded Cronenberg’s film by three years.)

Kirk Douglas stars as Peter, a intelligence agent vacationing with his “gifted” son Robin (Andrew Stevens) in “The Middle East” (as we are told via subtitle) when he is gunned down in an ambush set up by his old partner Childress (John Cassavetes), who has designs for the mind-melting lad himself. Peter survives the attack and spends the next several years trying to track down his offspring’s whereabouts, eventually leading him to Chicago to connect with another telekinetic teen (Amy Irving) who has a psychic link to Robin.

Charles Durning and Carol Eve Rossen are sympathetic and conflicted as the mysterious Paragon Institute’s main figures, while Carrie Snodgrass has a key role as an old flame of Peter’s who ALSO happens to have mental powers. Cassavetes is in fine form as the sneering one-dimensional villain while Douglas, who had just turned 60, is he-manning it up for all he’s worth with numerous shirtless scenes. Irving and Stevens are serviceable if stiff, while Dennis Franz (in his fifth role of 1978) has a brief and memorably buffoonish turn as a cop (naturally) whose car Douglas commandeers.

There are a lot of broad strokes with minimal detail, rendering the onscreen action a little lightweight, but the director’s trademark flourishes (particularly the use of slow-motion and axial-zoom cuts during Irving’s escape from the institute) and literally explosive conclusion (credit to Rick Baker) deliver the necessary genre thrills.


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