Movie Review: Fury

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A green young army typist is sent to replace a tank’s dead gunner on the front in Germany at the end of World War II.

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David Ayer, 2014

The crew of the tank nicknamed “Fury” have just lost their gunner in a brutal battle when they’re sent Norman (Logan Lerman), whose only army achievement to date has been typing. He is immediately set to work by Don, AKA “Wardaddy” (Brad Pitt), the team’s leader, who is respected and almost revered by his crew. The closest thing he has to a second-in-command is “Bible” (Shia LaBeouf), a religious and caring soldier who was deeply affected by the death of their brother-in-arms. The stoic “Gordo” (Michael Pena) and redneck “Coon-ass” (no really) (Jon Bernthal) round out the tightly-knit crew, who don’t take well to the moral, awkward new outsider as Norman struggles to make it through the war.

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David Ayer’s foray into the war film genre looks incredible. Shot on film, it’s gorgeously rendered, making full use of “magic hour” natural lighting to create some really effective visuals. It gives you a sense for the claustrophobia of life in a tank without spending too much time in there, and the era-appropriate details are lovingly rendered, as are some seriously gory visuals. To my mind, the silhouettes against coloured smoke most closely resembled Star Wars, as did one other odd detail. The gunfire in this movie, for some reason, looks like the blaster/laser fire in Star Wars: red for the good guys, green for the bad guys, streaks of light shooting through the smoke. The soundtrack is really doing the most, which isn’t always a good thing; I thought it crossed the line into overbearing and hammy a few too many times. Unfortunately the story is pretty thin and episodic (tank goes here, battle, tense scene, battle, tense scene, etc. ad nauseum) and the script is very average. In addition to the endless fixation on World War II (I’m sure there’s more hours of film than the war actually went for at this point), there currently seems to be an obsession with the end of that war, what with this and Monuments Men coming out just this year.

The performances are mostly pretty good. Logan Lerman feels almost as green as his character in spite of the fact that he’s already carrying a franchise. He seemed very eager to prove himself in this, although his wide blue-eyed stares are fairly effective. Brad Pitt carries the movie effortlessly. Michael Pena is, of course, underused as the token non-white guy. It’s Shia LaBeouf who really shines in this film. Apparently he was fairly, er, dedicated on the set, but the resulting performance is bruisingly powerful. He’s the emotional core of the movie, the heart of the team, and it’s very difficult to tear your eyes from him when he’s on screen. He sells the intensity of the war more than anything else in this film. The film deals frankly with moral greys in war, with a few very uncomfortable and tense scenes – Wardaddy is far from the hero he’s made out to be, Coon-ass is pretty awful, and there’s one scene with two German women that I found hard to watch in just how tense it is – but aside from a few standout moments, there’s a repetitive nature to the film. It isn’t the fresh take on World War II that it seems to be aiming for.

Fury on IMDb

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