A couple of years back director David Ayer released arguably the most realistic and powerful cop film “End Of Watch” which starred Michael Pena (Crash) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko). Ayer also wrote the script for “Training Day” and “Harsh Times”, along with many more gritty crime/drama films. I thought End of Watch was one of the best films of 2012 so when I heard that David was behind “Fury”, a war film set in April of 1945, where a group of allies begin making their final push to victory I was pretty keen to check it out. Fury is a little different from the majority of war films released over the last decade or two in that it deals with a Sherman Tank unit instead of the normal infantry divisions. A hardened army Sargent named Don Collier, aka Wardaddy (played by Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank with four other crew members as they head out on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. To make matters worse they are out-numbered, out-gunned and recently had a member killed in action who has now been replaced by rookie Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman). The film also stars Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal.
I had read a few reviews before seeing Fury and a lot of the critics had very mixed opinions. Some said it was typical American rah-rah action war with no dept. Others labelled it a masterpiece that truly captured the horror of war. After having seen the film I have to agree with the latter.
The number one thing that stands out about Fury is the fact that the film is told from the point of view of this tank crew. Discussions on events they have been through and battles they have had together and the horrors that they have seen provide us with some amazing emotional filled scenes, one in the house of couple of German women comes to mind. The authenticity of the time period is as good as any other war film I’ve seen since Saving Private Ryan. The action sequences hit home hard and the anguish of what these men are going through is written all over the crews faces for the entire 134 minute running time. Some of the reviews said this was contained too much battle and war and not enough character development which they deemed necessary for audiences to get behind the group and their battle for survival. I have to disagree with that statement, sure we don’t get flashbacks of their lives before the war or much discussion about relationships or family but did we really need too? Did it lose anything? I don’t think it did. We are brought along for the ride and experience exactly what these guys went through and you know once it was all over and done with they would never be the same again. There is some character development most of which is with Norman, being that he is the youngest and the least experienced in dealing with the situation. When you see where he’s at in his way of thinking/mentality at the start and where he is by the end, it’s a deeply saddening journey but remarkably displayed.
Other reviewers said the dialogue was hard to understand and that none of the crew were really likeable. Firstly, I say please get your hearing checked because ninety percent of it was fine. I’ll admit Grady Travis (played with lots of enthusiasm by Jon Bernthal), can be a little difficult at times but mostly due to the thick southern accent. As far as them being unlikable, war and the things you have to see and live through would be enough to make you pretty jaded and broken and beaten down too. The film isn’t about finding people you really love or knowing the ins and outs of each character in order to have sympathy for them or want them to survive. The fact that they are so close to death each day should be enough for you to want them to live.
The aspect that elevates this film to one of the best of the year, if not the best is the calibre of acting from everyone involved. Most people know that Brad Pitt is amongst some of the best in the business and has been for a while now. The surprise packet here is Logan Lerman who has the responsibility of the lead character. Sure, he does have a fair bit of experience with acting and I believe he started when he was really young, back in “The Patriot” with Mel Gibson. However, to reach some of the heights he does in Fury takes a lot of raw talent and getting in that mindset and he just does it with ease. When you look at the other 3 actors it’s just all class as well. I have been a huge Michael Pena fan for a long time and the guy is one of the best character actors going around. He plays Gordo who is a little bit less serious than the rest of the group. LaBeouf has gotten himself in trouble a bit lately and I know a lot of people don’t like him. However, since the Transformer films he has gone from only an average actor to really impressive, particularly in “Lawless” and now in Fury playing Boyd aka Bible. He doesn’t have a huge amount of dialogue but he spends most of the movie being on the verge of tears and the look on his face is just unbelievable. Rounding out the group is the loudest and most obnoxious Grady aka Coon Ass. For most of the film he is just being a bastard towards everyone but there are one or two scenes where he shows his true self. Maybe if he was living another life and wasn’t thrust into the situation he is in things would be different.
What can I say was bad about Fury? Very little. Obviously you know it’s going to be a very raw and unrelenting war film that doesn’t let up and probably won’t leave you with that warm and fuzzy feeling as you walk out of the theatre. The only two very minor issues were just details in the final battle. If they hadn’t taken a bit of poetic licence the Germans would have only sent a handful of men further up the road to scout and once it was established the allies were there they would make a plan. Marching everyone up into the open with a tank that may or may not still have soldiers inside isn’t something they would have done. The second thing is when one of the characters is attempting to hide from the enemy he really doesn’t make much of an effort. He is covered by a tank but there is plenty of mud around to cover himself up with or tunnel under and instead he sort of just pretends to lay there. The writers could have taken a page or two from “Enemy At The Gates” and what they did in a similar scene.
Those are honestly the only two super minor things I can say were questionable about Fury. The acting is a pure master-class, the time period is captured perfectly, the action sequences are heavy and the dark humour mixed in gives you a break from what would otherwise be a pretty damn depressing and bleak film. It’s not just battle after battle for two hours which could have worn out its welcome in under two hours. This is every bit as good as Saving Private Ryan and the 15 year or so wait I’ve had for a war film to be anywhere near as good as that is finally over. In my opinion Fury will probably go down as the best film of the year, Well done!
My rating for “Fury” is 9/10