Nick Fury: Agent Of Shield (1998) review

Nick Fury posterDirector: Rod Hardy

Starring: David Hasselhoff, Lisa Rinna, Sandra Hess, Neil Roberts, Garry Chalk, Tracy Waterhouse

“I do not intend to spend the last few hours of my life on this planet in the Helicarrier’s sick bay. I’ll get that vampire’s blood if I have to suck it from her neck.” (Nick Fury, Nick Fury: Agent Of Shield)

When you think of Nick Fury these days, chances are the first image that springs to mind is Samuel L Jackson’s face.

In a way it was a hell of an achievement for Marvel to have taken a comic book character who’s been white for the best part of 40 years and in nearly no time at all make us all associate him with Mr L Jackson instead. Props and such.

Less props were offered to Marvel in the ’90s when it happily handed out the Nick Fury licence to 20th Century Fox, who in turn created a made-for-TV movie that doubled as a pilot for a potential TV series (it wasn’t greenlit). This is that movie.

You're supposed to exhale, mate
You’re supposed to exhale, mate

This ’90s version of Nick Fury was not played by the badass mother fucker from Pulp Fiction and Snakes On A Plane. Instead, he was played by Mitch from Baywatch.

Yes folks, David Hasselhoff is your Nick Fury for this tour de fromage, and his casting is just as misjudged/perfect as you would expect (depending on your opinion of bad movies).

At the start of the movie Nick has been retired for five years and no longer works for S.H.I.E.L.D. (which is more of a standard military outfit here than the espionage agency it is in the comics).

He’s quickly called back into action though when it emerges that the daughter of the late Wolfgang Von Strucker, head of the evil Hydra organisation, has decided to take over her old man’s legacy.

You can tell she's evil because she's got a quirky haircut and a weird guy with no face standing in the background
You can tell she’s evil because she’s got a quirky haircut and a weird guy with no face standing in the background. Tell-tale signs right there

Viper (for it is she) plans to unleash a deadly virus on Manhattan if she doesn’t get paid a massive ransom in 48 hours: and, let’s face it, chances are she’s going to do it anyway because she’s a bad bastard.

It’s up to Nick and the rest of his team to put an end to Viper’s plan and save New York before it ends up all dead and that. No pressure, then.

As if that wasn’t tricky enough, Nick is facing his own battle against time. Having been tricked into being seduced by Viper, he too has been infected with a virus, one based on the deadly venom of the Colombian tree frog (yes, I’m serious).

If Nick doesn’t find and defeat Viper in time then not only will all of Manhattan’s fine citizens die but, because he needs her blood to develop an antidote, he will too. No wonder he’s called Fury: I’d be raging.

David wasn't exactly delighted when the colonel started playing re-runs of Britain's Got Talent on the Control Room's big screen
David wasn’t exactly delighted when the colonel started playing re-runs of Britain’s Got Talent on the Control Room’s big screen

Nick is supported by a number of other chums, though none of them seem particularly special. Most useful of the bunch is Val, Nick’s ex-lover (bet you can guess what happens between them at the end), who has tactical smarts and is invaluable help during the operation.

Joining them is Pierce, a hapless English drip who’s just graduated from a military academy and quickly discovers that what he learned there doesn’t necessarily work in practice.

And then there’s Kate who, as a psychic, is the only one in the team that actually has any super powers (this is supposed to be a Marvel Comics story, remember). Even then, she isn’t that good at it: she nearly makes a complete arse of the finale when she reads someone’s mind wrong and Nick has to make a 50/50 guess to save the day.

Despite the atrocious reputation it has among comic book fans online, to some less precious about the IP – such as me – Nick Fury: Agent Of Shield is daft fun.

Yup, that's an evil lab alright. You can tell by all the coils. Evil as fuck, them
Yup, that’s an evil lab alright. You can tell by all the coils. Evil as fuck, them

There’s plenty of over-the-top action, ridiculous plot points (Nick has a life-sized robotic android version of him, which is introduced purely for the sake of appearing in one later scene) and some hilarious pantomime-level performances: especially from Hasselhoff, who constantly appears drunk throughout.

What keeps it all together though is the dialogue, which is unsurprising given it was scribed by a young David S Goyer, before he went on to write the likes of Blade and Batman Begins.

Fury’s jerky one-liners are so hilariously prickish that you can’t help but laugh as Hasselhoff mumbles them through his cigar smoke. “I thought you were dead,” Val tells him at one point. “I was,” he replies. “But I got better.”

Cheer up missus, I thought it was funny
Cheer up missus, I thought it was funny

Similarly chuckle-inducing lines include his description of Val’s seduction-based interrogation technique (“Val’s an old hand at the sexpionage game, aren’t ya?”), his disregard for the meddling boss man trying to keep him under control (“guys like you tend to cling to the bowl no matter how many times you flush”), and his kind words to his enemy (“I danced on your poisonous father’s grave, and I’ll dance on your grave too, sweetness”).

If you’re a comic book lover who is likely to pick holes in each of the film’s discrepancies (like the fact the film is called Agent Of Shield and not Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) then you should probably skip this one because you’ll be picking away more than a scabby fidget.

If you aren’t as dedicated to the world of Nick Fury however and just want to be entertained by a laughably cheesy action film, then get stuck in.

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If you enjoyed this review and are itching for more, here’s my entire index of reviews (211 and counting!). Then get yourself some cream. You know, for the itching.

HOW CAN I SEE IT?
Nick Fury: Agent Of Shield was recently re-released on DVD in the UK (and was the version used for this review): you can get that here. The DVD in the US is sadly out-of-print but if you want to try your chances with a used copy than by all means go for it.

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One thought on “Nick Fury: Agent Of Shield (1998) review

  1. This sounds like a bloody awful film. Crazy casting decision with the Hoff. And yet I find myself strangely drawn to it in a ‘so bad it could be good’ kind of way. Great review, btw.

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