Saturday, 29 September 2012



It's pretty obvious why this has been retitled from The Samaritan. Firstly, that's not a hugely enticing title: it suggests goodness and kindness and biblicalness which is going to sit oddly with the dayglo 18 certificate. Secondly, Samuel L Jackson is very good at doing fury: he's an endlessly watchable actor anyway but even moreso when cranking up the anger, rage and/or righteous indignation. And thirdly of course, he's Nick Fury in the Avengers saga, so if they can hook their entirely dissimilar and completely unconnected movie to the Marvel bandwagon, who cares? Expect to see the next Scarlett Johansson movie renamed The Widow, or the new Robert Downey Jr movie simply called Iron. Similarly: why else use a pullquote like "A gritty serving of pulp fiction" on the front of the box?

Fury is a twisty con artist thriller of the who's-conning-who? variety in which the "mark" - in this case Tom Wilkinson - is a smart and dangerous multi-millionaire but for the purposes of the plot has to spend the last reel or so behaving like an utter moron. After 25 years in prison for killing his former grifter partner, Jackson wants to go straight but gets forced into a shaky partnership with the dead man's son, to pull off a con which should net them eight million dollars. Add in the sexy young woman (Ruth Negga), about whom there's a spectacularly horrible plot development that I simply didn't buy, Deborah Kara Unger for one scene as a veteran con artist and a few moments of needlessly graphic violence (in particular a guy's face gouged out with a broken wine bottle) should be fun.

It should be fun in a Sting kind of way, but it's far edgier and nastier and comes with absolutely no laughs; it's impossible to side with the grifters because they're basically crooks and crucially, unlike the con artists in The Sting or TV's Hustle or the crooks in the Ocean's movies, they're not lovable crooks. Wilkinson's mark may well have it coming to him, but not from these guys. They're not cheeky rogues exacting an elegant revenge for a previous wronging, they're callous and joyless thugs who spend more time betraying and manipulating one other than they do on the con itself, and the relationships between the three of them would leave a nasty taste in the mouth if you could actually believe them. Despite Jackson and Wilkinson, it's a film that's very difficult to like.


The Wrath Of Con:

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