Movie Review – Fury (2014)

Director: David Ayer

Stars: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBoeuf, Jon Bernthal, Michael Pena, Logan Lerman

Fury tells the story of the American tanks during WWII. Don (Brad Pitt) leads his crew on dangerous missions against the Nazis, whose tanks are more powerful. Joining them is Norman (Lerman), who came into this war as a typist but is thrown into the maelstrom of fire and brimstone as he quickly learns that his conscience counts for nothing.

I generally love war films and I looked forward to Fury because I haven’t seen too many war films that focus on tanks, at least not off the top of my head. It doesn’t tread that much new ground (pun intended) as it has the usual commentary on the brutality and senselessness of war, and the characters are broad stereotypes. You have the gruff commander, the religious one, the asshole one, the more easygoing one, and the newbie. Yet the actors all do a good job and breathe some depth into their roles, especially LaBeouf. He’s had a lot of bad press for much of his career but he shines here and is almost unrecognisable from the man who portrayed Sam Witwicky in Transformers. Logan Lerman is great as well, going from wet behind the ears new recruit to battle-hardened warrior. Pitt holds the group together, although at the beginning he seems a little too gruff and is very similar to his character in Inglorious Bastards, but as they film progesses we see a different side come out.

While the film does focus on this band of brothers type, there’s not much revealed about the history of the characters or their personalities outside of the broadest characteristics so it’s a real testament to the actors that the audience gets attached to them to the extent that they do.

The other star is, of course, the tank. We became more intimate with this vehicle than we do with the characters in some respects. To them it’s their home, and is as important to them as the Enterprise is to Captain Kirk. The action is brutal and visceral, and the blood and murder happens in front of our eyes. The shells whistle past and explore thunderesouly, and caused me to jump more than a few times. At points I was so immersed in the film that I felt like I was on the battlefield with them.

There are a number of missions that culminate in a heroic stand where the odds are greatly against them. I love these types of scenarios, and drama is high as darkness falls and Germans advance in a cloak of smoke, given an orange hue due to the burning fire around. It’s haunting, and poignant. But the film is not entirely action. There is a break where we get a nice piano interlude and a reminder that humanity still exists amidst the devastation…until the full force of the war comes back.

Fury’s depiction of tank warfare is refreshing and offers a new angle on war combat. While it doesn’t offer much new in the way of the characters, the actors do a phenomenal job at presenting a set of soldiers that feel like brothers. It’s raw, visceral, and I loved it. I definitely recommend it.

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