Film Review – Fury (2014)

Fury - post

Title – Fury (2014)

Director – David Ayer (End of Watch)

Cast – Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, Jason Isaacs

Plot – During the final period of World War 2, typist turned tank operator Norman Ellison (Lerman) is placed into the command of seasoned war veteran Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Pitt) and his team of loyal men who serve in his tank “Fury”. Through Wardaddy’s oversight Norman is shown the true horrors of war and what it takes to survive as they traverse the dangerous grounds of enemy occupied Germany.

 “It will end, soon. But before it does, a lot more people have to die”

Review by Eddie on 24/10/2014

As much as I was personally anticipating Fury, I must admit to not being fully prepared for just what a visceral and uncompromisingly brutal film David Ayer’s war tale is. Without question this is one of the starkest, dirtiest and most downright unflinching big-budget war films I’ve ever seen. Every bullet that flies past, and every dropped bomb that you feel is quite an experience, and its full credit to Ayer and his very talented cast that the film is the end product it is.

Fury opens without any fanfare, showing a smoke strewn battle field punctuated by a lone German officer on a white horse, but what happens next sets the tone for the entire film. Ayer cares not much for backstory, there are no training montages here and he cares only to thrust the viewer straight into the belly of life in the Great War, and more accurately life in a tank. This is one of Fury’s greatest strengths; much like Wolfgang Petersons submarine-set masterpiece Das Boot, when the camera is in this confined space so too is the audience. It’s not at all a comfortable experience, but as we see here, and know anyway, war is anything but comfortable. As Brad Pitt’s “Wardaddy” tells Logan Lerman’s fresh-from-the-office Norman: “Don’t get attached to anybody” and “you’re never safe,” never do we feel that these men inside “Fury” are safe nor do we truly become attached to anyone. It’s a feat for the film to achieve this, but also ultimately a downfall.

There is so much history to these characters in Fury, from Wardaddy’s scarred back, through to their time in Africa, yet we remain largely un-privy to these events and it lessens the impact we feel for these men and their mission. The crew is all largely likeable, with Pitt once more producing a star turn, but his ably supported by Lerman in what is a finely grown-up turn by him and The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal in what is his best big screen role to date. Michael Pena is solid if not overwhelming, while brown bag wearing Shia LaBeouf is a weak point in a role that sees him crying at any given opportunity. It’s one of the more memorable war parties we’ve been witness to in recent cinema history, and while it doesn’t quite reach a Saving Private Ryan level of success in concerns to this, it’s not far off.

Sadly though, no work by the actors could’ve truly saved the film’s weakest and most disappointing element, its finale.

All the groundwork laid so solidly by Fury’s opening stanzas and realistic approach to the war is almost entirely undone by the films last hurrah. Without entering too much into spoiler territory, to say that Fury’s big showcase is overblown would be a massive understatement. It feels driven by a want to once more showcase Americans as one-man wrecking machines and actually feels like it belongs in another film. The actors are all still great, and the direction consistently engaging yet it can’t help hide the fact that the film an entirely different beast in the last 30 – 40 minutes and it’s sadly worse off for it.

Barring its ending, Fury is often close to masterpiece-like material, and all being said the film judged as a whole is still one of the more memorable and well-made war tales in recent memory. In setting out to show that war is hell and anything but glorious, Fury succeeds in all departments bar its misguided ending. It’s always great to see Pitt command a role on film as he does here and it’s also a relief that promising director Ayer has recovered from his disastrous Sabotage experience. For an encompassing war-set experience, Fury delivers on all fronts.

4 spat out bits of fried egg out of 5

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15 responses to “Film Review – Fury (2014)

  1. I think I disagreed with you as much as I agreed with you on this, and we still came pretty close to the same rating 🙂

    I did feel attached to the crew. I felt they were each given their “moment” to sell to us. Lerman really grew up from his Percy Jackson roles and I didn’t mind Shia’s crying, but that’s kinda funny you pointed that out. I sorta thought Pitt could’ve been a little more animated and less stoic at times, but that’s being picky.

    You make some good points about the finale. I wasn’t upset with it but it wasn’t as impactful as I think the rest of the film worked for it to be. Nice review!

  2. Great review! I’m beginning to think that anything Brad Pitt puts his money behind is never crap and he doesn’t seem hesitant to share the screen with anyone. My parents never went to see any war movies because as my Mom said, “she lived through it. She didn’t have to see it again.” But I would love to know what they, especially my Father would have thought of this one.

    • That’s a great point Joan, Pitt does seem content acting alongside anyone and even letting someone else take centre stage. I to would love to hear someone who experienced this horrific time let us know what they thought of this film, it seemed quite accurate in many ways.
      E

  3. Hmmm, maybe we watched a different ending, cause I thought the action-packed finale fit in with the rest of the film just fine. Arguing that the final battle was meant to “showcase Americans as one-man wrecking machines ” is like complaining that ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ was too Japanese-centric or that ‘Chopper’ focused too much on Mark Read. It’s a film that follows an American army tank unit and you can’t fault it for that. Moreover, the film took plenty of time to establish the moral ambiguity of American grunts killing German grunts and vice versa, what with that poor crying German soldier who Pitt executed in cold blood and the young SS officer who spared Lerman, not to mention Bernthal acting like a complete brutish ogre with those civilians. Clearly we are meant to sympathize but never empathize with these characters, save for perhaps Lerman. I often feel like American movies (especially war films) can never show Americans shooting too many non-Americans lest anyone get offended 😛

    In any case, I was more unimpressed with the relatively predictable dialogue that I found myself mouthing as the actors spoke themselves. Yeah, “war is hell,” “this is war, bad stuff happens,” “don’t get attached to anyone,” “do your job,” etc etc. Can we shove any more cliched war movie lines in here?

    On the flip side, the battles were white-knuckle intense and gorgeously shot. I loved the Sherman v Tiger tank battle most of all.

    What did you think about the scene in that German household? That was what I found most perplexing and I still can’t fully decide what I think about it…

    • That scene in the household was quality stuff mate, really seemed to show up a few characters and also the nature of war for different people. It was a movie that was quietly powerful that’s for sure.
      E

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