Movie Review: Fury
From director David Ayer, best known for his screenplays for Training Day and End of Watch, comes 2014's first knock-out war film, Fury. Following past lackluster war films of the year, such as George Clooney's Monuments Men, Fury takes no prisoners with its straight-from-the-start jolt into the action. With a star-studded cast, including the almighty Brad Pitt, the scrawny Logan Lerman, and the actor we thought we'd never see again, Shia LaBeouf, this tank-driven thriller packs a powerful punch underneath its hardened shell of steel.
It's April, 1945, and the battle lines have been drawn. On one side, we have the brutal Nazi Army, waiting to strike at any moment with no remorse. On the other, we have the Allies, equally brutal in their effort to take back the Eastern and Western Fronts. They also hold no remorse for the men they kill. Led by their fearless, battle-hardened commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt), a platoon of Sherman tanks are assigned to hold their position at a crossing vital to winning the war. Quickly ceased by a more-advanced German tank, the platoon is scattered, leaving only Collier and his five-man crew with their tank, "Fury", alive. Struggling to both adjust to new crew member (Logan Lerman), and survive the bitter horrors of their final stand, Collier and his team must risk everything to hold their ground and fight until the very end, no matter how violent it may get.
Fury, as brutal and cold as it may get, burns with an undying passion to bring the audience to the edge of their seats, and then blow them clean off it. Jumping into the action right from the get-go, with our lead Brad Pitt leaping at a German soldier to quickly end his life, the thrills of this film never stop. Depicting the inner hells of war, from the remorseless killing to the never-ending fire-fights, Fury delivers a great action thriller to enjoy, while also giving the audience some top-notch performances from the entire cast.
From Pearl Harbor in 2001 to War Horse in 2011, I have always been a fan of both historical films, and films depicting the horrors of war. Whether it be from the perspective of a pilot, a soldier, or even a horse, war films have aspired to show its audiences what it truly feels like to be thrown down to the front lines and shot at. While some may lack in story, some lack in great performances, and some suffer from Micheal Bay-ification with too many explosions to properly enjoy, there are some that hit it right on target. With most war films today focusing on today's issues, great examples being The Hurt Locker and Lone Survivor, it's always nice to go back to our roots of war, back to good ol' World War II. Fury, set in this hellish time of brutal warfare between the Axis and the Allies, brings to this year what War Horse brought to 2011, brutality with a heart. While it may be a lot more violent than War Horse, and may feature little to no horses, Fury holds a similar likeness to the film, bring powerful performances to a bloody scenery. By far this year, Fury holds its place as the top war film, and even looks to earn Oscar praise. And while some may strive to defeat it in the coming months, like Angelina Jolie's Unbroken and The Imitation Game, Fury will remain to be the most unique war film I've ever seen.
The cast of the film was also quite unique. From the fearless leader "Wardaddy", played by the always-entertaining Brad Pitt, to the Southern bible-man Boyd Swan, played by Shia LaBeouf, the entire cast offers great performances, some even award-worthy. Starting with the always-bad-ass Brad Pitt, who moved from fighting zombies in World War Z to killing Nazis in World War II, again he gives the audience a great hero to follow. Kicking ass, while also spitting out any awesome lines they give him, Brad Pitt leads this amazing cast into the depths of war, and doesn't come out until he has chilled the audience right down to their bones. Having previously won me over with his performances in films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Moneyball, and 12 Years a Slave, Pitt never fails to surprise me with his roles, no matter how weird they get. Now, in Fury, Pitt creates a brand-new character for the audience to root for, but also scorn for his character's vicious brutality. Either way, in the end, Pitt manages to make a hero out of a war-torn soldier with no remorse.
Speaking on the role of a hero, Logan Lerman, who plays newcomer to the tank-driving business Norman Ellison, ultimately ends up taking the spotlight away from Pitt with his astonishing performance. Starting off as a weak, inexperienced freshman to the tough tank team, Lerman's Norman quickly develops from a soft pacifist to a hardened killer. Doing so, Lerman soon dons the heroic role as he fights without fear to save his crew. In the end, Lerman easily delivers one of his best performances, beating out his great role in 2012's The Perks of Being a Wallflower with this emotional yet brutal one. With that, he definitely deserved that final war nickname of "Machine".
The rest of the cast is great, but not as memorable as these two. Micheal Peña is amazing as usual, while Grady "Coon-Ass" Travis, played by Jon Bernthal, doesn't offer much more than slight comedy to the plot. And then there's the infamous Shia LaBeouf, who I haven't seen on-screen since he was whining about giant robots and girl troubles in the Transformers films. While he may have appeared in numerous films these past years, mostly independent ones, like Lawless and The Company You Keep, Shia LaBeouf's apparent return to mainstream films hasn't gone unnoticed. Playing the religious, bible-toting Boyd Swan in Fury, LaBeouf returns with a vengeance as he brings a rugged Southern accent (with mustache included) into a profound role as a committed tank gunner. While he may not be the main character, he is definitely one of the blocks in this film's foundation, fueling its immense drama with his courageous performance.
Spawning the scores for some of Hollywood's top films, like Gravity, as well as some of Hollywood's funniest alien films, like The World's End, Steven Price returns for more with Fury's riveting sound to accompany its dark war tone. From brooding marching chants to quick jolts of blaring horns, Price's fast-paced score translates well with the gripping film, making every thrilling scene twice as scary, and twice as entertaining. Coming off of his award-winning score from last year's Gravity, there's not a doubt in my mind that he will be up for another for this film as well.
Overall, Fury exceeded my expectations, delivering Oscar-worthy performances and showing us the true brutality of World War II. With amazing cinematography, a great cast that deserves to be praised, and awesome war violence to enjoy and cringe over, Fury takes the audience by the reins and steers it right into the action with every twist and turn. If you love war films, Brad Pitt, or some good ol' tank shooting, then you'll definitely enjoy this riveting tale of a five-man crew pitted against all odds.
I gave this film an 8 out of 10, because it had some of the most phenomenal performances, action sequences, and thrills I've seen all year. While it may falter at times with story progression and character development, Fury still holds true to the words of Brad Pitt's protagonist, "Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.", in that even in the most deadliest, most violent of times, the heart remains, beating on to fight another day.