Fury

fury-poster

Release: Friday, October 17, 2014

[Theater]

Written by: David Ayer

Directed by: David Ayer

There’s no such thing as a politically-neutral war film. That’s why David Ayer (End of Watch; Sabotage) should be praised for focusing not on the ideals and goals of war but rather its consequences. In his film there is a whole lot of loss and not a great coalition for reason. Few times before have camera angles remained so calm while also telling a thousand tales of the brutal atrocities of these violent outbursts in human history.

Death, destruction and psychological damage are bigger players in this hellish game than Brad Pitt could ever be. And this, it ought to be mentioned, is Brad Pitt operating at the top of his. There’s an almost journalistic approach taken by a director who has become comfortable with painting morally bankrupting scenes with the transparent brush of objective reality. Seeing a body being squashed by a platoon of tanks as they roll on down the road into the heart of Nazi Germany is just a fact of Fury. If we’re facing facts, we have to acknowledge there was a hand sticking out of the mud, that those weren’t just clothes being soiled and destroyed.

On the other hand, Fury is actually ironic when debating the merits of its Hollywood components. Brad Pitt is pretty. War is anything but. Make no mistake, though: as Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier, he’s the identifiable head of a body of strong-willed men who have been fighting the good fight for far too long. The film picks up on the defensive, as a very specific Sherman tank, affectionately labeled ‘Fury,’ is escaping intense aerial attacks after sitting like a duck amongst wreckage that doesn’t look too far removed from what we might imagine physical Hell to look like. It is 1945, a month before the official surrender of Nazi troops and at a time when Hitler was never more desperate. Opening title cards set the scene, and Ayer swings in with cameras immediately thrusting us onto the front lines.

German men, women and children are all armed and treated equally: they’re dispatched dispassionately by Collier’s men and then some. Collier is immediately backed by a ragtag group of good-old boys (plus a Mexican). We have Trini ‘Gordo’ Garcia (Michael Peña) as the primary tank driver; Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis (Jon Bernthal) as a loudmouthed sumbitch; and the film’s biggest surprise in Shia LeBeouf’s man of faith, Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan.

A film is almost always automatically bolstered by performers showing up to perform their duties, and that’s precisely what happens here. There isn’t a false note in any performance, and these aren’t exactly what you’d describe as easy or predictable characters. They are characters we have seen before, true, but they operate under virtually impossible circumstances, and with each passing day the odds stack up exponentially against them.

Fury is primarily concerned with showcasing the fortitude and gung-ho spirit of this unit as they face some of the heaviest opposition relative to the second Great War, patrolling muddied, pot-hole-filled country lanes and tiny ramshackle towns that otherwise would be quaint were it not for the hostility. It commands attention via an easy to follow, simple story that shadows this tank until it runs out of luck (and ammo). What begins as a platoon of at least five Shermans is whittled down to just one as the superior firepower and construction design (though to a lesser extent) of the German tanks prove to be too much for the Allied Forces.

Adding to the chaos is a fresh-faced 18(ish)-year-old typist, a Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) who has been transferred to the Fury squad. Perhaps if there’s anything outstandingly cliché about this film it’s the hard time the preexisting members give the newcomer as he joins their ranks. Understandably, the kid is instantly overwhelmed and can’t face the reality of having to kill people on a daily basis. A great deal of the emotional heft exists as a result of the tension between an idealistic young lad who sees no good coming of harming Germans who have surrendered, and an experienced vet in Wardaddy who is concerned the newbie might get them all killed if he doesn’t toughen up.

Ayer pumps his film full of pain, rage, profound sadness. Cinematic liberties can be found every where you turn and you won’t have to look hard to find them, but buried deep within this familiar tale of fighting against impossible odds is a deeply disturbing, revolting truth. Men are not monsters before war. Men aren’t even monsters afterwards. But war is just another thing men are capable of. And the unrelentingly bleak Fury is, apparently, something that David Ayer and his fantastic company are capable of.

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4-5Recommendation: Grim and gory, Fury is undoubtedly a large-scale war film but the focus is much more personal than that. Ultimately this is about the individual efforts that helped shape the Allied Powers’ remarkable surge against a German army hell-bent on taking over the world. Ayer does an incredible job of setting atmosphere, elevating tension constantly and producing characters we can truly root for. I can’t imagine a single reason any fan of war films would be missing out on this one. That said, this isn’t one for the squeamish.

Rated: R

Running Time: 134 mins.

Quoted: “Ideas are peaceful. History is violent.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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18 thoughts on “Fury

  1. I’m terribly unenthusiastic about war movies. Is that bad? Lol. Glad you enjoyed this one though. I’ll just take your word for it that it’s great. 😉 Good review!!

  2. Pingback: Reading List 31.10.2014 – Hyperfilm

  3. I actually saw this a few weeks ago, wrote a review, then lost it when my computer crashed. I don’t I will re-write it because the film didn’t make much of an impression on me. It was about a tank that goes from point A to point B. Along the way we get one good (and very long) scene where they hang out in a house. Other than that, nothing here to set this apart from dozens of other competent WWII movies.

  4. With a score like that, I’m glad that I carry around a backpack with the words, “Fury”, on it. My girlfriend works for Sony and she held a draw at a one of the events promoting this flick…which I won and everybody thought was rigged haha. I haven’t got a chance to see the film yet, but your review and awesome writing makes me want to change that. John Wick comes first though!

  5. Woo, excellent review, Tom! Yours is the third overly positive review I’ve read of the film, so I think the scale is starting to tip in favor of me seeing it in theaters. I’m also very curious to see if Shia Labeouf actually does turn in a good performance or not.

    • No way!!!! Oh man, that is a huge bummer. I expect they gave everyone free passes for another time?? Damn digital projection, indeed. Hope you give it another go man, its most certainly worth it (in my eyes at least). 🙂

  6. Excellent review, I think you really captured Fury very well and I hope to see this soon. I’m also excited that David Ayers is taking on Suicide Squad next, I think he’ll bring a dark, gritty side to that team.

    • Yes! I had forgotten he was in the driver’s seat for that, wasn’t he? Hell yeah!

      Thank you for the praise Eddie, I can’t wait to hear/read your thoughts on it if you get to this (which I do highly recommend doing). 🙂

  7. Good stuff Tom, enjoyed reading. I hope to see this while its on the big screen – maybe next week. Nice to see Shia get a bit of praise for once – I’ve seen him stink it up but I’ve also seen him do good work in a couple of movies so I don’t think he’s that bad!

    • Stu I hope you do get to this one man. It deserves your critical eye, as well as the eye of someone who understands where they came from. I had no involvement in this war obviously but thanks to good, honest films like Fury I have a much bigger appreciation of why we exist in the space we do now. Wars are terrible, but sometimes even more tragically they are necessary. Watch this film and see how that thought plays out for you.

  8. Outstanding review; I can’t wait to see it. WWII films scare me; that is, everyone wants a “new” ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and the hype surrounding ‘Fury’ has me wonder if it lives up to it. Nice job, Tom.

    • Cindy you’re too kind thank you. 🙂

      I empathize with the concern over the hype. Me? I find it warranted, though I think its slightly unfair to draw comparisons to SPR in every aspect. That movie is definitely the superior one but Fury does a lot of things that are very real, very honest and very gut-wrenching. I am impressed with what David Ayer did here. And that is boosted by the fact that I recall him putting out the incredible flop ‘Sabotage’ earlier in the year.

  9. Totally agree. Brutal, badass and heartbreaking. The final moments of the movie are so god damn awesome that it reaches a Rambo level of insane. So, so good.

    • Haha it really does man, that ending sequence was harrowing, heartbreaking. . . just. Awesome. I loved this movie. As brutal as it was, I’d sit through this again for sure. I have a difficult time coaxing myself into watching Saving Private Ryan again though. Lol

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