I don’t quite recall a huge marketing campaign for Fury, the new WWII tank-combat driven film starring Brad Pitt. Sure there were posters, but I do not recall ever seeing a preview before a movie. Perhaps they were unsure of what its success would be, but even without a lot of marketing it has earned quite a bit at the box-office. Fury is a weird amalgam of several genres and situations created by other, far superior movies. But that doesn’t stop it from being an entertaining and bitter look at the lives of the people who spent the war inside the cramped spaces of a tank.
The film opens with a stark reminder that the American tanks were not well prepared to take on German tanks, but the movie throws us right into Germany where the resistance is powerful. Most films cover the war from training camp, to Normandy, to wherever, but this one puts us right near the end of the war. This means that the men are scarred, battered, and emotionally unstable. We do not see the depreciation of the human spirit because it is already gone. Brad Pitt Don “Wardaddy” Collier, the sergeant and highest ranking member of the tank, Fury. Also joining him in the tank is Shia LaBeouf, Joe Bernthal (Walking Dead), and Michael Pena (End of Watch). They are a (literally) tight-knit group of men who have seen their fair share of atrocities in the claustrophobic confines of the tank. They are soon joined by the “mistakenly” placed Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) who has to have his own baptism by fire before he is inducted into the men. All of the actors give exceptional performances, but perhaps the best performance in this film is from Lerman, who really faces the biggest transformation. At the start he is a fearful and anxious newbie who won’t fire his gun. By the end, well, war changes people.
The film does not have a significant over-arching story to drive it forward, rather it is steered by the characters who face more and more atrocities. The film is not a sugar-coated look at WWII. It is also not an easy movie to watch for those who cannot handle gore and blood. There are many instances that seem almost to devolve into “shock-factor” moments, ones that do not have any other purpose other than just to make you feel sick. Maybe people’s heads actually did explode from one bullet, but I was never in WWII so I cannot attest to that.
The director, David Ayer (End of Watch), seems to have lost a bit of focus during the second half of the film. What starts off to be a character-driven film about the lives of soldiers inside a tank (much like what Das Boot did for Germans in U-Boats), turns into an action packed film that ends with an overly-climactic battle that seems like something you would find in an action movie rather than a psychological war-film. That doesn’t mean it’s any less entertaining, it just significantly changes the tone of the movie about 2/3rds of the way through.
In the end, Fury is not the next great war movie. It’s falter in tone and presentation in the latter part of the film damages the bitter and grim tone that it begins with. Fury is still a fun film with some cool and tense action scenes, phenomenal acting, and a refreshing look at WWII that will please any fans of the genre. So, if you’re a fan of WWII movies, want to see some cool tank combat, and can also handle horrendously gruesome violence, Fury is the movie for you.