Fury (2014)

War is hell

  • Director: David Ayer
  • Rating: R
  • Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal
  • Screenplay: David Ayer
  • Music By: Steven Price
  • Cinematography: Roman Vasyanov
  • Running Time: 134 Minutes
  • Premiered: October 17, 2014

Synopsis: April, 1945. Allies make their final push in the European Theatre and battle-hardened sergeant Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and a five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a jumpy rookie thrust upon them, Wardaddy and his crew face overwhelming odds in their attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Review: Fury is probably the grittiest war movie to be released in recent years. There is no shine or gloss; this is an intense and rough examination. The movie follows a Sherman tank crew in the US 2nd Armored Division. This is the first WWII film to focus on an armored division. Most war films focus on the infantry, air force, SEALS, Special Forces, or Marines.  Tanks are little more than armored furnaces. One good shot by anti-tank gun and the crew is burned alive. Fury does a fantastic job of capturing the visceral horror of tank battle.

The Fury tank crew consists of Wardaddy (Pitt), Bible (LaBeouf), Gordo (Pena), Coon-Ass (Bernthal), and Norman (Lerman). Together they set out on a mission to storm Berlin. Norman is the “noob”, and his inexperience puts the other men at risk. Wardaddy is offended that a green soldier is thrust upon him and does his best to toughen up Norman. This leads to a scene depicting an event that is little more than an execution. The overarching message of this movie: history is brutal. And David Ayer lives up to this theme, the fight scenes are brutally ugly and graphic. The film is definitely a hard R.

Fury is a war film that wants to immerse the viewer in the chilling reality of warfare. Each scene sets out to visually assault the viewer with mud and guts. There is only the thinnest of plots. Instead it is more of a series of vignettes of brutal nightmares where the crew can either kill or be killed. The final battle scene culminates in the crew facing off impossible odds and trying to ward off defeat. While this is a bit of a war movie cliché, it was executed well and does not end the way you think it will. The Fury crew is not composed of the cookie-cutter Hollywood war heroes.  These men are battle hardened and border on the animalistic. Be prepared for battle, this is an action movie with little “deep” dialogue.

In the few scenes where the crew is not in combat, the men are shown dealing/not dealing with coming off of an adrenaline high. They curse (some more convincingly than others), pray, and beat up on each other. The rest of the time they walk about in a dejectedly grim manner. There is one scene that I felt was rather out of place. Ayer decided to add some character depth by alluding to a sexual encounter between Norman and a German woman. The whole scene was odd and struck a discordant chord with the rest of the film. There is no redemptive or humanizing aspect to this chapter in the film. None of the characters are fully formed and have little backstory. So this odd sexual coming-of-age scene really interrupted the flow of the film.

Brad Pitt’s acting had improved enormously in recent years. He owns his character and commands each scene. Wardaddy comes across as a damaged and battle hardened sergeant. This is good, because I have a hard time taking Shia LaBeouf seriously. Every time I see him all I can think about is his character Stanley from Holes. However, his character never feels out of place. Michael Pena and John Bernathal tried their best with the little material given to them. Only Pitt and Lerman had semi-developed characters. Logan Lerman has come a long way from the clean cut Percy Jackson. In Fury, Norman is a nervous recruit who is pulled out of the typing pool and thrust into a tank. Lerman does a great job depicting Norman’s terror and unwillingness to sacrifice his conscience. Considering the lack of character development, all the actors did a fantastic job depicting their respective characters. Unfortunately, the lack of development meant that I did not have an emotional connection to any of the characters.

Overall, I recommend the film. It is well acted and directed. At the end you will have an understanding of what it was like to drive a tank in combat.  Fun fact: Fury is the first WWII movie to use a functioning Tiger I tank in production. Tiger 131 is the last functioning Tiger tank in existence (fact courtesy of my brother).