Fury

| June 10, 2006

With all the bad acting contained within “Fury” and the overly clichéd woman-feeling-scorned-so-she-has-to-kill-everyone story, filmmakers Paul Gorman and Steed Merrill lose any hope for atmosphere which, despite everything else, can sometimes be a saving grace if the cinematography is right, if the right lighting comes across to give off the power unknown to the actors playing the roles.
But they don’t even make that effort, not with the camerawork contributing a live-on-the-five-o’clock-news, in-your-face, happening-right-now immediacy. A too-long opening credits sequencing consisting of a few helicopter shots only adds to the distraction and frustration of not getting to the story right away and when it finally starts, it’s a shock. Does any lawyer really look that good after years of law school? Does any killer look that calm, collected, recalling memories as if talking about what she had for lunch? No nervous tic? No hesitation? Minor quibbles, to be sure, but as with any “thriller”, each action by any character adds up to something.
Marie Madison, playing Laney McCoy, the older woman of an affair gone wrong, at least to her, sits in an interrogation room, just reciting lines. There’s no feeling, no inflections, no real woman behind those words to bring us into this purported psychological thriller. Because it’s not just a psychological game for the characters; it should also be that way for viewers who venture into 77 minutes of wondering who this woman is, why they should keep watching, what her motivations are, whether she had been burned so many times before, that she feels compelled to hold on to 25-year-old Michael Pierce (James Xavier) more tightly than all the others.
In fact, all the actors just look like they’re reciting lines. Marie’s lawyer, Rebecca, doesn’t even look serious enough to merit the true legal consideration over whether her client is innocent. Renee’ Rohan, playing Rebecca, prods Laney with questions, as it is with any movie where a killer is interviewed, but where is any of the excitement here? Where is any of the potential for Laney to be at least a bit interesting?
That’s just it, though. She merely exists according to the wiles of the script, in which Merrill and Steed have clearly never understood that before any script goes into production, it should be edited to be at its tightest, to really bring any viewer in with the greatest of ease and then trap them with no way out, eyes hopelessly glued to the screen, but all for the best in excitement and valuable time. None of that here, not even with the fake blood that flows over many of the characters, the unpleasant black eye on one of Marie’s friends who claims her lover only does that to her when he’s had too much blow. Oh, please. There’s no acting. No one creates characters. No one realizes that they can’t be themselves; they can’t be merely remembering lines they read. They have to be someone they’re not. Then, perhaps this is the film Merrill and Steed have always wanted to make. There’s sex, blood, and murder. Why does there need to be a story if the only intent is to create from their own minds that which they have seen in all the years they have watched movies?
Laney’s younger lover, Michael (James Xavier) doesn’t act like any man in his 20s. Is he a composite of various characters in their mid-20s that both directors have seen in other movies over time? What also isn’t realized is that dialogue contributes to the feeling of a film just as much as the story. It isn’t enough to set characters down and just have them move around. They speak, and when these people speak, including the once-in-a-while friends Laney has (one of them even becomes a victim), it’s nothing like you’d hear from people you know. Many clichéd phrases heard in one’s life can be heard again here. Naturally, with bad dialogue comes illogical actions, including a scene involving Michael’s girlfriend that makes one wonder why in the heck she’d do what she did. Waiting that long? For what? By that moment, there is nothing else watchable. It’s just one moment out of many to watch passively as to how each of Laney’s victims are killed and even then, there are some scenes where Steed and Merrill are simply too overeager to get to the killing, including one death that looks more cruel than suspenseful.
Even through all this, there is the ending which sparks a slight hope that Steed and Merrill might improve in their filmmaking methods, camera quality, and perhaps even hire better actors, or at least lead them and motivate them to give performances that create a proper atmosphere, no matter what kind of camera is used. It’s the biggest shock in a slew of minutes devoid of shocks where what we think will be the case after the lawyer is fully finished interviewing Laney, truly is not what will happen and in fact, what we think will happen may have already happened in the courts. It’s enough to cause anger over wasted time. Why did they wait this long to bring forth what could have been showered over this film to make it all worthwhile? But then, nothing. No energy. No seizing desire to remain tapped into these characters, to see what happens to them next. No actors. No screenplay. A psychological thriller that also claims to invoke horror doesn’t work if none of the essentials haven’t showed up. Good psychological horror can make one overly uneasy, with that feeling remaining beyond the end of the film. Had this been billed as a parody, this may have had a chance. As a serious psychological thriller, it doesn’t thrill at all. It’s one example of what boredom and frustration looks like in cinematic form.

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