Director: David Ayer
Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, and Jon Bernthal
By Monte Yazzie of The Coda Films
David Ayer understands how to make procedural films, look no further than the “day-in-the-life” cop drama “End of Watch” for evidence. “Fury” examines a worn-out and broken group of soldiers, following them at the end of one battle right into another mission, just another day of work for these men. Ayer incorporates affecting character drama and creeping tension from the unknown and unexpected aspects of danger lurking seemingly everywhere. “War never ends quietly” is the tagline and Ayers understands this, incorporating panicked scenes of battle accompanied by the blast of a tank canon. “Fury” is seldom showy, aside from extravagant violence; it displays a traditional war film atmosphere and a successfully simplistic structure.
A group of soldiers in a Sherman tank are sent on a mission behind Nazi occupied enemy lines. Lead by a hardened sergeant who goes by the nickname “Wardaddy” (Brad Pitt), the group of men has bonded on the battlefield. Accompanied by a fresh recruit (Logan Lerman) the group is utterly out-numbered and faced with danger around every turn.
“Best job I’ve ever had”. This solemn line of dialog holds both sincere truth and deceptive motivation. These men purpose their fighting in relationship to a job, reaffirming after numerous life or death battles the comment stated as a means of motivation to continue forward. There are no breaks in war, a statement portrayed all the more harrowing when the soldiers have downtime and their mood shifts in every direction. In one difficult scene, the mere utterance of one word brings the whole squad to an emotional halt, each of them having a different reaction. These men have experienced enough tragedy and atrocity that war has conditioned them into a state of constant survival, kill or be killed. They are detached, a feeling made aware when the younger new recruit is added to the time weary crew of the rolling Fury and forced to realize aggressively the bitter truths of war. In a nice touch Ayer never gives the viewer the entire story of the soldiers; instead we are offered pictures, subtle gestures, and hinted dialog to extrapolate who these men are away from their service identity. Unfortunately the film does become susceptible to the design it implements, while the procedural prospective displays the rugged and continuous routine these soldiers carry on a daily basis, it also becomes predictable and slights the characters from more meaningful developments.
Brad Pitt is convincing as the uncompromising leader who levies a fair amount of tough love to his bonded group. His performance isn’t too far off from his prior role as Lt. Aldo Raine in “Inglorious Basterds”, here Pitt is less boisterous and more haunted, spurned by the call of duty but afflicted with the long road paved by violence. In a supporting role Shia LaBeouf is great, his character red-eyed and on the verge of tears quotes and reads scripture dubbing him a moniker of “Bible” by his band of brothers. LaBeouf displays the talent that has been shadowed by some his past film selections.
The violence is quickly paced, startling, and gruesome. Ayer is purposeful and gratuitous with the use, which sometimes works, and other times feels blatantly unnecessary, gore for the sake of gore. There is no denying that overall however the violence, regardless of the how it is utilized, displays the sudden and terrifying atmosphere of the battlefield.
It would seem difficult to make a film about soldiers when they are driving something as visually consuming as a war tank, however director David Ayer succeeds in many instances here. “Fury” assertively displays the violence and chaos of war but also offers insight and unflinching perspective into the routine of warfare.
3.50 out of 5.00