Film

Fury movie review

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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.

13 responses to “Fury movie review

  1. With so much lunatic killing everywhere, but especially in the ME, why the need to keep flogging WW 11, which Pitt seems to be drawn to? If once I thought the life of a film critic would be fascinating, am now more inclined to pity poor Luke Buckmaster for having to review such a ghastly film. But thanks to Luke nevertheless for watching it so we do not have to!

  2. Lot of mistakes in the movie. Just saw it. Great figures. Very good sounds. .. good attempts to showing guns against tanks… but lot of illogical and non realistic fights. An immobilized tank In the middle of a road….surrounded by 100 soldiers with their anti tank weapons and the tank fights till midnight enemies don’t even flank it and its crew can face burst of bullets while shooting normally. . It is a big fall of logic

  3. I found it very similar to “Saving private Ryan” , excellent detail with acknowledgment of man’s universal brutality until the ludicrous ending which was no better than an old 1950s war movie. The final climactic battle was complete BS with the enemy running around in front of the machine guns forgetting they had lethal antitank weapons , anyway , since a recon aircraft had spotted them earlier an air strike would have certainly plastered them. Was a military adviser involved ?

  4. The last 30 minutes was utter rubbish, typical American gung-ho bs. I am a tank buff and was excited to see this but equally nervous about David Ayer being behind the wheel and for good reason. Shame on all involved…

    1. Yeah, the tiger battle was such crap, he would have picked them off with immunity from long range, why come out from cover and loose your advantage ? Also the shermans would’nt have approached 4 abreast , they would have fanned out to get a flanking shot. The tiger was actually the world’s only one in running order

  5. Ok, the story was old. However two coments show they either paid little attention or fell asleep. The three remaining Shermans in the Tiger scene reversed to cover as the Tiger fired from a hull down position at 800 yards. The shermans fired smoke and and then attacked, the Tiger moved forward to reaquire his targets, that I don’t believe was expected by the Shermans.
    The final scene camouflaged the tank as a knocked out tank, and then waited past the final moment to open fire. I agree that the SS would likely disengage and just try to use panzerfausts, however mabye they had orders to push through at all costs. I’ve read some real bizarre accounts where troops panicked and were not as effective as they ought to have been, or attacked very stupidly. In the end the SS did knock out the tank, killing all but one of its crew, who were simply paying for critical time with their lives.
    Too similar to SPR story.

  6. Agree on the final battle being too Hollywood, but very much appreciated the performances and the middle story. As for moral ambiguity, well, of course. It is going “both ways” in Norman’s tortured mind. Isn’t that what creates so much PTSD? I’d give the film four stars.

  7. No harsh feelings against the author,but he may have drifted off while watching the film. Norman,though reluctant at first to get his hands dirty,starts killing the german soldiers after seeing their ruthlessness towards their own people,being killed mercilessly on their refusal to lift the guns.Norman discovers the atrocities comitted by the germans,experiences their fanaticism which fuels his conscience to kill the nazis,not just a mere ‘filmy’ push . The author seems to have a grudge against David Ayer.

  8. This is a film that is struggling with an identity crisis. The review was spot on. I had high hopes for this film but in the end It just insulted my intelligence too much to be entertaining. I often found myself laughing in places that I knew were supposed to be taken seriously. One does wonder why the war dragged on for as long as it did when clearly all you needed was a single broken down outgunned, under armored Sherman tank and 3 and a half men to take down what appeared to be an entire platoon of elite German troops with half tracks, artillery and whole bunch of anti tank personnel. Which would be fine if thats the type of film it advertised itself to be, but this film is neither pulp fiction nor saving private ryan.

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