Review: 'Fury'


[vc_row][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]It’s nigh on impossible to come up with a unique war movie. Nearly every path has been trodden, every stone overturned. But David Ayer’s Fury smartly brings war down to a more manageable level by focusing on the crew of one World War II tank at a time when the Germans boasted far superior technology in their own armored vehicles. Brad Pitt stars as Don “Wardaddy” Collier, the tank’s commander and hardened military man. Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is our audience surrogate, a typist who’s thrust into tank duty on a whim. “Bible” (Shia LaBeouf) is the religious gunner; “Coon-Ass” (Jon Bernthal) is the uncouth loader; “Gordo” (Michael Peña) is the driver. We open with Norman’s predecessor’s blood splattered all over the tank’s interior. Collier apparently promised his men that they’d make it through the war alive, and now that promise is broken. Being untrained for this duty, Norman can’t

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handle the barrage of gory death that suddenly surrounds him. And being that they’d like to not die for as long as possible, the tank’s crew must force Norman to accept this new reality and do his part in ensuring their survival. There’s no grand mission in Fury; no war-turning endeavor that drives our characters. They’re a step above grunts but still no more than cogs in a bloody machine; the war’s about to end but Hitler hasn’t surrendered, so the Allies are throwing more and more men at the Germans in an attempt to force a resolution. This subtly colors everyone’s actions; while pockets of the opposition are giving up all around them, they press on from town to town and risk their lives in a sort of deadly dreariness. As the leader who must push his men through this monotony, Pitt stands out yet again as one of this generation's best. It’s impossible to escape comparisons to his work in Inglourious Basterds; that’s the trouble with making two World War II movies in five years and using a similar voice for each character. But he paints Don as a man who toes the fine line between barbaric and virtuous; it’s not clear for quite some time whether Collier is worth rooting for, and even in his prouder moments there’s a darkness that Pitt seems to embrace. No one should see what Don has seen without snapping on occasion, and Pitt isn't afraid to push Collier to the edge. The rest of the actors portraying the crew are just as solid, if not more so. The overqualified Peña isn’t much more than the token minority, but Bernthal steals every scene as the aggressive, uncivilized hick of the group. And I can’t put into words what a revelation LaBeouf turns out to be. A young man who seeks to provide the wisdom and sincerity of an older one; a preacher of sorts who pals around with murderous degenerate types: LaBeouf makes it all feel as natural as a rainstorm. Ayer takes advantage of the (somehow still) 28-year-old actor’s reputation and subverts expectations brilliantly. The presence of well-worn stereotypes is abundant, yes, but they also summon depths that were probably not on the page through such brilliant, committed performances. Ayer packs his film with an abundance of gore and enough action to almost strain credulity. Heads explode; bodies are crushed under tank tracks; men are burned alive. And there’s been much discussion about the green and red “laser” trails that illuminate each side’s firepower volleys, but according to the writer-director’s research this is legitimate tracer technology used in that time period. Ayer seems like the kind of filmmaker who relentlessly pursues his gritty vision, but he’s also not afraid to employ a subtlety not found in your typical war movie. The core of Fury is exposed in a scene where Collier and Norman, upon taking back a small town, sit down for a civilized afternoon with a German woman and her young cousin. Don calms her initial fears by delivering some fresh eggs and asking for nothing more than a hot water for shave; Norman takes the young girl to bed in a gentle fashion. But when Bible, Gordo and Coon-Ass show up – the latter two stinking drunk and the former seemingly upset at not being included – the divide between the crew becomes starkly apparent. They’ve been through so much together, but it’s different when they’re plopped into the real world (or as close as they can get). Don’s a lifelong soldier who’s good at killing, and he leads his men with honor and respect. But it’s not likely that he’d be friendly with Coon-Ass and Gordo, or even Bible, in peacetime. He even relates to Norman in mainly a father-son capacity; their deepest bonds are limited to that claustrophobic interior. But that’s where Fury mostly takes place, and the implicit oaths sworn within the tank, temporary though they may be, are beyond strong. “Best job I ever had,” they all takes turns announcing after every harrowing mission. Are they being sarcastic, or genuine, or a bit of both? Ayer’s genius lies in allowing such ambiguity to breathe while also expertly illustrating how such connections between human beings are the backbone of true heroism. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/3"]