You never really know what you are going to get from a Samuel L Jackson film. Sometimes he is phenomenal despite the awful film that is going on around him, and sometimes he’s awful in a generally average film, and sometimes he’s brilliant in a brilliant film. Unfortunately, Fury (aka The Samaritan) falls in to the former category, which is a shame because the concept is just the sort of idea that you would imagine Jackson thriving on.
Fury is the story of Foley, who is released from prison after a lengthy sentence, back into society as he tries to reform his life. However, he is quickly visited by the son of his former boss, Ethan, who wants to get into the business, namely a complicated scheme involving drug debts and something called ‘grifting’. Foley refuses, and tries to go back to normal life. He soon meets Iris, who seems to be as alone as he is and they begin a relationship. However, all is not what it seems, and it transpires Iris is not only in the employ of Ethan, but is a junkie with a bigger connection to Foley then he realised (and one which aims to be as disturbing as possible), all of which gives Ethan the leverage required to force Foley to do that one last job.
Fury (or The Samaritan as it has been re-titled, a worrying turn of events for any English language film, especially when it’s after the film’s completion) should have, and could have been an excellent film. The concept is gritty and intriguing, and Samuel L Jackson looks more enthusiastic here than he has for years. Unfortunately, while his performance as Foley is masterful and evokes sympathy from a character that really doesn’t deserve it, and while the other actors are at least passable, the script is terrible. The concept of the ‘grift’ is never properly laid out for the audience, and is a confusing mess, the characters that aren’t Foley are completely one dimensional, and the logic of the reactions of certain characters makes no sense. The nature of the true relationship between Foley and Iris should be something that shocks, alarms, and causes all kinds of turmoil for the two, but it doesn’t. Jackson’s reaction is particularly perplexing, especially given the activities the two had engaged in before finding out the truth.
Fury tries very hard to be real, and shocking, and to tell a dark story of attempted redemption, with a bit of the classic ‘just when I was about to get out, they pull me back in’ narrative thrown in for good measure. However, it just never quite hits the right story beats, and the ending is inexplicably straightforward, especially given the tangled web that leads up to it. Frankly, Fury is a mess, and even Jackson’s best attempts can’t save it from being one of the worst films of the year, and something that you’d imagine most involved with, will probably not be highlighting in years to come.