Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1998) Movie Review

Things weren’t always so good for Marvel Studios. Several years before they were making big budget blockbusters, they were reduced to cranking out television films for the Fox Network. A fair effort went into bringing Nick Fury, the famed S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, to life, but even so it never truly does justice to the legendary character.

In the movie, Nick Fury (David Hasselhoff) returns to S.H.I.E.L.D. after a five-year retirement to stop the menace of Viper (Sandra Hess), the evil daughter of Hydra leader Baron Von Strucker, who is plotting to release a deadly virus that will wipe out the population of Manhattan. Fury must lead his team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to stop her and prevent the wholesale slaughter of millions of innocent people.

The most notable thing about “Nick Fury” is that it is an early work by David S. Goyer (“Blade” and “Blade 2”), who produces a well-written and fairly imaginative script by providing plenty of dramatic tension while still remaining respectful of Fury’s comic book origins. While the character development may frequently be weak, overall it shows the great promise of someone who would go on to write much better films. Director Rod Hardy knows the importance of keeping things moving at a relatively brisk pace and does his best to hide the some of the film’s glaring faults with some nice visual touches. James Bartle’s cinematography is also well done, and frequently makes “Nick Fury” look at lot better than it should.

But a cast that doesn’t seem up to doing a low-budget TV film undermines all this. As Nick Fury, David Hasselhoff is simply horrifying as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s premier agent. He seems like he was cast simply because the producers wanted a recognizable name to headline the credits. His performance is entertaining, although probably not in the way he intended. The cigar-chomping actor looks like he’s trying to channel the spirit of Snake Plissken rather than Nick Fury.

The rest of the cast doesn’t do much better, but you really can’t blame them for under performing. With Hasselhoff going on as he does, the cast haven’t much incentive to achieve more than serviceable performances. If your lead is going over the top, what’s the point in following him? Sandra Hess is fairly good as uber-villainess Viper and has a commanding presence when onscreen. But even she seems to eventually despair after coming to terms with what she has to work with.

The ending hints at further adventures, but mercifully they never materialized. Just as well, since this uneven production works best as a stand-alone movie instead of a pilot for a television series. The movie’s good directing and writing are undercut by poor performances, making you wonder how this would have turned out if they’d bothered to get the right cast. As it is, “Nick Fury” is good for comic book fans that’ve been yearning to see their hero in flesh and blood, and need something to tide them over until a better film comes along.

Rod Hardy (director) / David S. Goyer (screenplay)
CAST: David Hasselhoff …. Nick Fury
Lisa Rinna …. Val
Sandra Hess …. Viper

Buy Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. on DVD