Certain Fury (1985)

certain

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Two gals flee police.

Scarlett (Tatum O’Neal) is a teen prostitute brought to court to face charges of killing a prospective customer. Tracy (Irene Cara) the daughter of a doctor (Moses Gunn) is also attending the courtroom that day. She’s there on charges of drug possession and resisting arrest. Before they can be brought before the judge a shootout occurs inside the packed room in which several deputies are shot and killed. During the ensuing melee Scarlett and Tracy and able to escape and get onto the streets. Neither one knows the other and have many differences in their personalities and temperaments, but find they need to depend on each other in order to survive.

In 1983 Tatum traveled down to New Zealand to star in a movie called Prisoners where she played the daughter of a prison warden who begins a relationship with one of the prisoners who is under her father’s watch. The film though was apparently so bad, or at least so disliked by her father Ryan O’Neal, that after viewing it as part of a preview audience he decided to buy the rights to it in order to keep it from being distributed and to this day very few people have seen it. This film, which was shot in June of 1984, was supposed to get her career ‘back on track’, by casting her as a streetwise 80’s punk, which was considered ‘trendy’ at the time, but was really just as much of a career killer as the other one and Ryan should’ve had the negatives of this one locked-up too.

That’s not to say it’s all bad. The action moments are genuinely impressive. The shoot-out is realistically handled with the gunshots that wound the police appearing authentic. The chase sequence goes on for quite awhile and includes the two going down into an underground sewer where there’s exciting underwater footage as well as a dramatic gas explosion. I even enjoyed the scenes inside a drug den in what seems like hundreds of people all lying around and shooting-up.

The film falters with the characters who aren’t fleshed-out enough to be interesting.  Cara is quite beautiful and looks great nude during a segment where she is attacked by Scarlett’s boyfriend (Nicholas Campbell), but she’s a bit too goody-goody. I would’ve liked more confrontation between the two and Cara being to be just as bitchy as O’Neal. As for Tatum she’s a caricature who lacks any type of depth to be believable. The only thing remotely unique about her is that she can’t read, but with no explanation as to why; is she dyslexic? She’s also snarly the whole time and thus making the two coming together and forming a friendship seem quite forced and mechanical as no one would want to be friends with her especially after she calls Cara the N-word several times to her face.

IMDb, on it’s storyline section for this film, incorrectly states that it takes place in New York, where most anyone would think a plot like this one would happen, but it was actually filmed in Vancouver. You become blatantly aware of this at the end when the camera pan’s the cities’ anemic skyline (it has since improved). I’m sure for tax reasons it was much cheaper to shoot it there, so that’s why the location was chosen, but for authenticity it’s not particularly believable as having such a vibrant underground punk scene like here it would’ve had to be in a giant metropolis instead of a mini-city. In either case this movie is a great example of how if you don’t have well defined characters it will flop no matter how good the action may be.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: March 1, 1985

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Stephen Gyllenhaal

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Tubi

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