CINEMA RELEASE: FURY
Release date: 23rd October 2014
Director: David Ayer
Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Scott Eastwood
Classification: MA15+ (Strong War Themes, Violence, Blood and Gore, Coarse Language)
Review by Peter Gray
War is a hellish experience, and as much as Hollywood tries their best to freshen this view, most productions fail to surprise within the genre to present us with something we haven’t seen before. ‘Fury’ doesn’t exactly offer anything new but, to its credit, it does shine a light on an aspect that’s been relatively unexplored.
Set in April of 1945, the last month of WWII in Europe, a five-man crew travel deep into Germany in their Sherman tank – nicknamed ‘Fury’ – on a mission to eradicate the remaining Nazis. Leader of the pack is Don Collier (Brad Pitt), dubbed “Wardaddy”, a battle-hardened sergeant who appears just as weary as the armoured vehicle he commands. The crew that serve beside him are a dysfunctional family of sorts, and sit comfortably within the “war movie clichés” you’d expect, with pensive Christian man “Bible” (Shia LaBeouf) as the gunner, driver “Gordo” (Michael Pena) who has a penchant for drinking whilst on the job, and loader “Coon-Ass” (Jon Bernthal), a feral redneck if ever there was one. Having lost a fellow comrade in battle the crew are saddled with Norman (Logan Lerman), a fresh-faced, prototypical “new kid” who has enlisted as a typist, but has been recruited as the bow gunner replacement. Norman has yet to fire a weapon so the film plays up his innocence, only to have it broken in a crushing manner.
Writer/director David Ayer (‘End of Watch’) hasn’t opted for anything overtly fancy when it comes to the narrative, instead letting the ‘Fury’ crew move along at a relative pace with no real distinct mission as their goal, the film rather focusing on them as they hunker down in their tank, trading insults and literal war stories. One sequence in the middle of the film where Norman and Wardaddy come upon two frightened German women is the closest the film gets to showcasing any true characteristics from the men, but its ultimately a fleeting moment as it continues on to highlight both the gruelling nature and unbearable monotony of war. Breaking up the monotonous routine is the hellfire that is battle, and ‘Fury’ indeed hits hard in its depictions. Much like Steven Spielberg burned profoundly disturbing images into our memory in ‘Saving Private Ryan’, Ayer’s work is similarly horrific with a particularly realistic display of what can happen to the human body when put in the line of war-fire.
As for the men putting themselves into these dire situations, Ayer has hardly dug deep with the majority of them all one-note creations. But perhaps that’s a deliberate ploy on his behalf as there’s a certain old-fashioned feel to the film – profanity aside – where the all-American men were real men, heroes to the last breath who may be continuously broken by their surroundings but love it all the same; “Best job I ever had” as they so proudly announce. As to be expected Pitt is a commanding presence, emoting more through his battered expressions than his dialogue, the film clearly benefitting from his natural performance. Pena and Bernthal are engaging in their respective roles, even if Bernthal’s hateful ways verge on irritation, and LaBeouf surprisingly manages to impress with a more subtle performance that is void of any of his “eccentricities”. Lerman perhaps has the showiest role as his Norman matures into manhood over the course of the film, and the young actor proves his worth amongst his more experienced peers; Norman is a character we are asked to emotionally invest in and Lerman thankfully succeeds.
The washed-out haze the film bathes in occasionally makes ‘Fury’ a difficult film to view, although one could argue its authenticity for the period its set within, and the German chant-heavy soundtrack sadly takes away from the seriousness of the setting, but overall the film succeeds at highlighting the comradeship and fraternity between men. Quite possibly ‘Fury’ is the most bromantic movie of the year.
My rating: 3.5/5