War films just aren’t my cup of tea. There, I said it. I know — just like every other genre — they all basically play out the same. Lots of heroism and flag waving, there’s just not a lot of character development floating around to make you really care for the characters. It’s more directors just wanting to make you root for “’Murica.” So it’s nice when one comes along that finally treats you to some characterization instead of just pitting a bunch of soldiers against a common enemy. In the case of writer/director David Ayer’s Fury, there’s more human drama than usual, making the turmoil even more devastating as the finale approaches.
It’s April 1945 with the end of World War II near. We meet our ragtag group of soldiers — Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt), Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LeBeouf), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena), and Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal) — suffering from cabin fever inside their beloved tank “Fury,” with one of their gunmen dead. As the final push into Nazi Germany commences, clerk typist Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is forced onto the battlefield under Collier’s command. Now, Norman is thrust into action having never so much as held a gun, and the 2nd Armored Division heads into enemy territory to make a final stand against Hitler’s regime.
The less you know about what happens in Fury, the better. Although, the trailer makes what happens in the big finale seem like it’s the majority of the film. Yes, the tank does break down with the SS fast approaching and the men take a stand, but there’s a whole lot more going on. Lerman continues to prove he’s more capable than some of his lesser roles and the whole crew show real camaraderie. Even LeBeouf is likeable — now that’s saying something.
Ayer gives all of the men character development, something lacking from most war films. And he never skimps on the gory details of war. Upon Norman joining the troop, he finds a piece of someone’s face inside the tank, and plenty of heads pop like zits as they’re run over by tanks. There’s also a surprising amount of humor, keeping the plot from getting too grisly. Ayer also makes fantastic use of his cinematographer (Roman Vasyanov) always ensuring you can see what’s going on — for better and worse sometimes.
There’s even a moment of sweetness with Collier and Norman taking refuge in a house with two women, Irma (Anamaria Marinca) and Emma (Alicia von Rittberg). But even that features one of the film’s most intense scenes involving boiling dinner table conversation. Pitt continues to prove he’s one of our best leading men. And Fury winds up being another frontrunner in the fall season when Oscar-bait films start taking over from the summer blockbusters. Fury is a spectacular piece of war film art, with real emotion and top-notch acting, making it one of the year’s best films.
Photos courtesy Columbia Pictures[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00NBXF7EM][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B0054OGQS2]