Director: David Ayer
Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal
Plot: April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and his five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.
Genre: Action / Drama / War
Rating: NC16 for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.”
There are many war movies out there, but not enough have been made about soldiers in tanks. So there is a sense that Fury might give some credence to the men who operate these tanks – machines that I would like to think of as submarines on land. They are claustrophobic and severely confined, essentially death traps in the face of much more powerful German tanks.
In Fury, the focus is on a small American tank crew, headed by Brad Pitt in a tough, no-holds-barred mode as Wardaddy. He leads a team comprising of characters played by Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal.
They enter enemy lines in Nazi stronghold Germany, attempting to provide Allied resistance to German attacks. Inevitably, a newbie soldier is thrust into the limelight, and forced to serve under Wardaddy's crew. He is played by the talented Logan Lerman, who becomes our eyes and ears in the violent skirmishes that adorn the movie.
Directed by David Ayer (Harsh Times, 2005; End of Watch, 2012), Fury impresses with its superlative battle sequences, which are well-conceived and exciting to experience. The violence and gore can be quite disturbing though, distracting even, and one feels that Ayer might have indulged in one too many shots of such excess.
The mark of an excellent war film is that when the battles die down, however temporarily, the drama continues to engage, perhaps even giving more depth to its characters. Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan (1998) is a perfect example, particularly the sequence before the climactic battle that reveals more of the personas of Tom Hanks and his battle-fatigued crew.
You will find no such effective drama in Fury. In fact, a lengthy sequence midway in the movie that sees Wardaddy and crew crashing into the apartment of a German woman and her daughter for an uninvited meal not only lacks dramatic heft, but feels awkwardly paced, becoming the lowest point of the movie.
One has to go back to 2009 for the most recent war movie centering on a tank crew – the Venice Golden Lion-winning Israeli picture Lebanon. Fury, I would like to think is inferior to Lebanon, a film depicting warfare from exclusively inside a tank. Fury is also nowhere close to the greats of the genre, but because war pictures are few and far between in recent years, this should appease fans until the next one comes by.
Verdict: A graphic WWII movie with superlative battle sequences, but lacking in dramatic heft.
GRADE: B- (7/10 or 3 stars)
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