English playwright William Congreve wrote that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned back in 1697. In 2021 Jesse V. Johnson (Avengement, Triple Threat) and writers Katharine Lee McEwan (Solitary, White Elephant) and Romain Serir (The Girl with Two Faces) are out to prove it’s still true with this World War II set story of a woman forced to fight against both sides in order to survive.
World War II is drawing to a close and Marie (Nina Bergman, Doom: Annihilation, The Car: Road to Revenge) is about to receive summary justice as a collaborator. She wasn’t, but that’s besides the point. She’s saved from them by a quartet of American G.I.s led by Major Maitland (Louis Mandylor, The Debt Collector, The Doorman). They’re not doing it out of a sense of justice though, it’s because she knows where a fortune in stolen gold is hidden.
Of course retrieving it is easier said than done. The graveyard where it was buried has a lot more occupants now. And everybody, from some of the locals to Von Bruckner (Daniel Bernhardt, Skylines, John Wick) and his Second SS Division are after it as well. By the film’s end, Marie will have to fight them all if she wants to survive.
“Hell Hath No Fury was made to celebrate complex acts of resistance by so many women that have gone unheralded and unwritten about for far, far too long. While the character of Marie DuJardin was actually influenced by several women who did incredible things during WW2—including my grandmother, Anne Armstrong (British Army, 1941-1943)—the film portrays the spirit of these women and the complexity of their circumstances through the vehicle of a fully fictional narrative.”Jesse V. Johnson
Since it was directed by Jesse V. Johnson, you know before it even starts that Hell Hath No Fury is going to deliver some serious action scenes. And it does, from the ambush that starts the film to gun fights, fist fights and an assault by German forces on the graveyard where most of the film takes place. There aren’t as many of these scenes as I was expecting, probably due to the cost of equipping so many extras in period uniforms and renting vehicles for some relatively unimportant exposition scenes early in the film. I’d have rather that time and money were put towards more action, but what we do get is well done.
My problems with Hell Hath No Fury rest with the script. There’s a distinct lack of characters who are anything resembling likable. The Americans, especially Jerry (Timothy V. Murphy, Snowpiercer, Breach) are anything but the good guys. The only thing that makes them better than Von Bruckner is that they aren’t Nazis.
Bernard (Dominiquie Vandenberg, The Mercenary, Barb Wire) could have been a relatable character but he’s underused and spends too much time having conversations with his dead brother George (Charles Fathy, I Lost My Body, Savage Dog). Even Marie herself isn’t someone it’s easy to really care about. It’s understandable given her backstory why she’s the way she is, but it still took me most of the film to warm up to her.
Johnson is at his best when he directs his own scripts, he understands the action film and can write with its needs in mind. The script for Hell Hath No Fury isn’t sure if it wants to be an action film, a thriller or a character study. The result is a compromised film with enough good points to be worth watching but far from what it could have been.