Next week, Samuel L. Jackson will be hitting UK screens as Nick Fury in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble (2012), to which many minds may wander when they learn that he is also starring this week in Fury (The Samaritan, 2012). This is no Marvel spin-off however; Jackson stars as Foley, an ex-con eager for redemption in this Canadian thriller directed and co-written by David Weaver. Fury offers up an intriguing examination of its issues, but all too often lacks the panache that could have made it truly memorable.
The narrative follows Foley, a philosophical former grifter fresh out of prison after a 25-year stint for murdering his partner after a grift went south. Foley is determined to make a fresh start, and it looks like a real possibility when he kindles a relationship with Iris (Ruth Negga). However, trouble lies ahead in the form of his partner’s son Ethan (Luke Kirby), who wants the ex-con’s help on an upcoming grift. The harder Foley tries to escape Ethan’s grasp, the more he becomes ensnared in Ethan’s web of secrets, and after a shocking revelation, he soon finds himself reverting back to his old ways.
From the very outset, Fury makes it clear what issues it will be addressing. Be it through his actions or words, Foley often laments how alone he is, whilst the recurring quote “Nothing changes unless you make it change” is telling. These themes are reflected in the various relationships which form the bedrock of the Weaver’s thriller.
The interaction between Foley and Ethan is enjoyable to watch at times, both trying to outdo one another in order to gain control. Jackson particularly excels at these junctures, momentarily evoking memories of his acclaimed turn as Jules Winnfield in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1997). However, the most intriguing relationship to watch unfold and evolve is that of Foley and Iris, both with troubled pasts and in need of second chances. Negga’s confident performance is impressive to watch, and she depicts both the vulnerable and spunky aspects of her character effectively.
Plenty of time is spent on exposition, detailing the intricacies of the con known as ‘The Samaritan’ (also the US film title), but an extraordinarily little amount of time is spent on the con itself. The central revelation could really have been used as a springboard in this regard yet instead, at 89 minutes in length, Weaver seems anxious to rush to the film’s conclusion. To paraphrase, we are conned out of a satisfying con.
An underused Tom Wilkinson is brilliant as the con’s mark Xavier, a British crime boss whose ruthlessness is matched by his love of wines, but the mere fact that he only gets a limited amount of time to chew up scenery underlines just how missed an opportunity his sparse screen-time represents. Kirby also delivers a solid turn as Ethan, an impulsive delinquent who believes he’s a lot more menacing than he actually is. The strong performances of the cast do well to elevate Fury, but there’s not much more to take away from this mildly entertaining crime thriller.