The following was commissioned by Culture Fly
Southern Fury is so old school it should be dead. Hollywood shouldn’t make them like this anymore. It is a fantasy of toxic masculinity, where the female characters are nags or nymphomaniacs and the men are macho with a capital ‘M’.
Director Steven C. Miller’s trite tale of brotherhood doesn’t go anywhere. JP (Adrian Grenier) needs $350,000 so he can save his brother Mikey (Johnathon Schaech) from crime kingpin Eddie King (Nicolas Cage), and those 21 words are as about as deep as the film gets. Not once is it believable JP would go to these extremes to save Mikey. Apart from their childhood love of arcade games, which is later used as an excuse for a massive leap in logic, these two brothers never do anything brotherly.
The script’s structure is responsible for this lack of believability. Jason Mosberg’s script separates the brothers and the plotting and dialogue is so brain-dead it doesn’t give any insight into their relationship when they are apart. It is also a noir without a mystery. The audience already knows what went down through some ill-placed flashbacks, and the script doesn’t know how to use the dramatic irony the reveals create. Heck, the film might not even know what dramatic irony is.
The dialogue and plotting’s lack of function is something that spreads across the movie. Miller uses histrionic techniques, often showing excessive violence in slow motion. We gain nothing meaningful from these moments, as it seems the director chose them at random, waking up the day of shooting and deciding it would be cool for everything to… be… super… sl…ow. It is a classic example of form over function. Paired with the rapidly cut action scenes, it makes a lot of the film illegible. You’ll shout “WTF is happening” every time there is a fist fight, a car chase, a dialogue scene.
What’s worse it that Miller treats this entire debacle seriously. The film is so clichéd you’d think it was a parody, that its vacuous nature is the point. Surely, the excessive violence is all done in the name of bad taste? Well, no. This is a serious affair, which doesn’t give it any excuses. It is just plain bad. For the most part, some of the actors try; Grenier is the most dedicated trooper, but he doesn’t have the acting chops to save this film. Johnathon Schaech comes across as a charmless Joe Manganiello, whilst John Cusack is so disinterested in the movie he actually excuses himself from the narrative.
The only person having a good time is Nicolas Cage. With his fake nose, Cage’s gangster is a caricature. He’s awful, but fun. It’s all so over the top, it’s as if Cage is in a different movie. He obviously believed it was a parody and no one told him otherwise. To be fair to the film, its 90-minute runtime feels short. It’s just a shame it’s because you’re just sniffing out the BS.