Film Fury movie review By Luke Buckmaster | October 24, 2014 | ★★★★★ ★★★★★ Splotch Brad Pitt’s face with dirt and scars, give him an army uniform and a pistol, surround him with scabby looking colleagues, hand him glum monologues to speak through gritted teeth, direct him to look around with a “seen it before” 1000 yard stare, insert some Nazis and bloody action scenes and pow — you’ve got the foundation for a mean arse World War II film, right? Director David Ayers certainly seems to think so. Pitt is part of an ensemble in Fury, a hardboiled genre pic that revolves around a WWII tank and the crew inside it, but his shit-eating snarl encapsulates the heart (whatever heart there is) and soul of it. The kind of noggin — and the kind of film — that seems to will you towards it while it condemns you for looking. Fury is an ugly film with a handsome exterior. It begins as a stylised, even gamified look at the soullessness of war and eventually disintegrates, as so many of them do, into gung-ho parochialism and excitable rants about winning at all costs. Long slabs are dedicated to acclimatising young typist Norman (Logan Lerman) to the sick stench of war. He is sent into the thick of it (Germany circa 1945) to join a tank full of weatherbeaten blokes, the kind of men who light cigars by swiping them across their cheeks. Their fearless leader is Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) and the rest are cookie cutter cinematic brethren, including a bible basher (Shia LaBeouf) and a vile killing machine (Jon Bernthal). Fury follows Norman from a naive newb who morally objects to state-sanctioned murder to a trigger-happy killer, replete with gun crazy death cries like “die Nazi scum!” Such a quick transformatiom is, to be generous, a push, made worse by the film’s regular affirmations that Norman is morally principled in ways people around him are not. If Norman genuinely transforms for the worse, why does the film keep telling us he’s the good guy? And what does this mean: that he is good at the start, bad when war changed him, but still good at heart? That he was reacting to an extreme situation and didn’t really mean all those nasty slurs and and all that rocket fire? What does this make the other characters, who are unfavourably compared? Are they simply hungry killers? Bad people who remain bad? Or “good” people who turn bad and stay bad? The film paints itself into a moral mess. Ayers wants it both ways, arguing war makes monsters out of men but that his subject is in essence better than the others for reasons he cannot explain — and which, amid the thunder, roar and stink of the battle field, no longer seem relevant. Perhaps this is a sign the genre has aged. As history takes us further from the events depicted, our intellectual reading of them ages too, and (hopefully) becomes more sophisticated. Ayers impresses on a technical level. He can hold the frame, and that frame convulses with a dark and often compelling energy. But these are tough storytelling lines to tread and we need something more than atmospheric nous: a director able to bundle together the emotional minefields of war with the rhythms required for interesting fiction. That’s no simple feat. Fury also demonstrates how difficult it is to make an interesting WWII film post-Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino’s 2009 head trip gorged in violence but wrapped an intellectual exercise around it, creating a work of weird historical revisionism. They got Hitler and made the bastard pay. Where do you go from there? In Fury‘s case, backwards. The cast create an intense sweaty energy and Brad Pitt’s chiseled jaw has never looked meaner. But despite the chest-beating, and despite all the cries about what is bad and good and just and what is not, it’s pretty soulless stuff. Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn Email About the Author: Luke Buckmaster Luke Buckmaster is film critic and writer for Daily Review, and contributes commentary to a range of Australian publications.