Published on October 30th, 2014 | by Allan Brown3
Movie Review: Fury (2014)
Running Time: 134 mins
Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs
War is a subject that has stirred and inspired film-maker’s generation after generation. From The Longest Day, The Great Escape and Apocalypse Now to The Thin Red Line, Saving Private Ryan and Schindlers List. These films not only became iconic in their own right, but ultimately re-imagined and redefined the war film of their day.
However, where the difficulty lies today, is for film-makers to break new ground and offer their audience a unique perspective in what has lately become a dull and over-saturated genre. So, does David Ayer’s intense and suitably claustrophobic WWII tank drama break the mould, or fall victim to being just another war movie, laced with a strong sense of DÉJÀ VU?
Its 1945 and Sherman tank commander Sgt Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt), negotiates his tank platoon deep within the heart of Nazi Germany for the final assault. Facing impossible odds and with a young sensitive fresh faced recruit to babysit, Wardaddy and his battle hardened crew find themselves thrust into a predicament that will ultimately change them all forever.
Fury presents a unique visual tank perspective of war, and David Ayer paints it as claustrophobic, brutal and as ugly as it must have been. From shell torn German towns and villages that lay in a strew of rubble, to the more graphic pictures of decapitation and tank trodden corpses that ley abandoned to waste. Such images are painted in a suitably saturated palate by cinematographer Roman Vasyanov, in what is an incredibly striking and unvarnished visual deconstruction of war.
Each member smashes their role in five utterly flawless performances
Themes including loss of innocence are explored delicately in the opening stages. Norman (Logan Lerman), a seventeen year old recruit, who like many in the final days of WWII, found himself required to leave the relative safety of a desk job to fight on the front line under excruciatingly difficult and utterly gruesome conditions. Wardaddy and the rest of the battle hardened platoon have spent the past three gruelling years fighting across continents, becoming less and less burdened by ethical rights and wrongs. In contrast, Norman is fresh to the cause, emotional and his moral compass straight and in-tacked. This of course is seen as a weakness – as hesitation on the battlefield could be the difference between life and death – and as a result it isn’t long before Wardaddy and the rest of the unit give Norman some heartbreakingly tough lessons in life, or rather, lessons in war.
These emotive moments and thought provoking ideas of morality in battle, soon become far too rushed to feel like anything organic or particularly convincing. By the second act they are abandoned altogether, making way for a more conventional rites of passage storyline, filled with standard war film heroics. Indeed, Norman’s character transformation seems to happen in the blink of an eye. One moment the fresh faced desk clerk is vomiting at the sight of death, or breaking down as he unflinchingly protests his moral stand under tremendous pressure from his superiors. The next, he is cutting down Nazi soldiers in a haze of machine gun fire without a care in the world – Transformation complete, in record breaking time.
An incredibly striking and unvarnished visual deconstruction of war.
We are also shown some interesting aspects to Wardaddy’s character in the initial set-up. Fleeting glimpses of vulnerability show a man struggling to cope with the hardship of being a stern faced leader amongst the horrors war. Early on, we see Wardaddy give a stern-faced team talk to his troop, before taking refuge behind a vehicle, as he struggles emotionally to hold it together, before having to put the Wardaddy mask back on. These moments show a hidden depth, but again, it is never explored any further.
Were issues certainly lie within the films writing, the same cannot be said for its cast. Each member smashes their role in five utterly flawless performances. Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal all present diverse and complex characters in their own right, and while the writing might not offer a deeper look at these complexities, the portrayals on-screen are truly mesmerising and ultimately what hold it all together.
Summary: Despite Fury being light on Narrative and emotional depth, its pitch perfect cast, spectacular visuals and unique view of war, make it a WWII movie not to be missed.