Uh-oh, Hydra is up to something!
If you don’t know who Hydra is, they’re an international group of villainous superspies. The organization was founded by a Nazi war criminal named Baron Von Strucker and they’re always trying to take over the world or destroy it. Hydra hasn’t had much success on either front but it’s not for lack of trying. Fortunately, there’s another super secret organization that’s been founded to keep Hydra from reaching their goals. The name of this organization is S.H.I.E.L.D. and they are headquartered in a big flying helicarrier thing. So, if you work for S.H.I.E.L.D., you not only get to save the world but you also have a hell of a work commute.
Anyway, Hydra’s latest plan is to steal the body of their founder and somehow not only bring him back to life but to also spread a deadly virus across the world. S.H.I.E.L.D. knows that it’s going to take the world’s greatest secret agent to defeat this plot but, unfortunately, Nick Fury (David Hasselhoff) is retired and living in an abandoned mine shaft in the Yukon. Nick wears an eye patch, smokes a cigar, and speaks in a permanently annoyed tone of voice. Nick’s done with saving the world. Or, at least, that’s what he thinks. When S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Lina Rinna) informs him that Hydra killed an old friend of his while stealing the Baron’s body, Nick emerges from the Yukon in search of revenge!
Long before Samuel L. Jackson donned the iconic eye patch and brought Nick Fury to life as one of the mainstays of the MCU, David Hasselhoff played the character in this made-for-TV movie from 1998. The movie was meant to serve as the pilot for a Nick Fury television series. (Hasselhoff, by this point, was looking to move on from Baywatch.) Of course, it wasn’t picked up and today, whenever this early Marvel film is mentioned, it’s usually in a somewhat dismissive manner.
And, believe me, I can understand that instinct to preemptively dismiss Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I mean, it’s David Hasselhoff and its from the 90s and it was made for TV. I get it. But, having watched the movie on Saturday night, I have to say that it’s actually not that bad. It’s low budget. It’s campy. It’s thoroughly silly. The film is full of actors giving uncertain line readings. And yet, it’s also fast-paced and, when taken on its own admittedly “special” terms, rather entertaining. In the role of Nick Fury, Hasselhoff plays the role with just enough self-awareness to indicate that he’s in on the joke. He delivers his lines with just the right amount of deadpan humor and he chews on that cigar as if the fate of the world depends upon it. In short, as opposed to almost everyone else in the film, Hasselhoff appears to be having a good time. In fact, one could argue that David Hasselhoff is a good Nick Fury for the same reason that Samuel L. Jackson is a good Nick Fury. Both of them play the character as if he’s someone who secretly realizes that he’s a character in a comic book film and who is determined to have as much fun with the role as he can.
The film’s plot does occasionally border on being incoherent but, honestly, who cares? Are you really watching a film like this for the plot? There’s a lot of explosions and one-liners. Hasselhoff has fun with the lead role, as does Sandra Hess in the role of Strucker’s daughter. It’s a dumb but entertaining. It’s also only 90 minutes long so it’s not like you’re having to sacrifice a major part of your life to watch it. Explosions and a short running time, who can complain about that?