Fury is everything you expect from a WWII drama: Nazis, mud, trauma, and the toughest men you’ll ever meet. There was once a time when Quentin Tarantino was the only director brave enough to blow half a man’s face off and make the camera linger on the remaining bloody flaps, but Fury’s director, David Ayer, takes the same liberties and never bothers to gloss over the ugly. Fury is a vicious blender of fear, anticipation, doubt, and human limbs.
Fury focuses on one ramshackle group of five American soldiers in April 1945, tasked with manning a tank on the German front lines. Don Collier (Brad Pitt) leads his team through Hell and back, starting with a small fleet of tanks that (spoiler alert) shrinks day by day. Bible (Shia LaBeouf), Gordo (Michael Peña), and Coon-Ass (Jon Bernthal) play crude, hard men, their personalities appearing all the harsher in comparison to young Norman (Logan Lerman), the newest member of their team. Noman is greener than a bag of peas, and must be initiated into the life of a tanker by his teammates and their hard life lessons. The timespan of the movie probably spans two weeks, with the tank moving from town to town and liberating German cities without an ounce of the pomp and circumstance we’ve seen in old photos.
In general, Fury avoids the wailing and suicidal insanity common in other war epics. These soldiers mask their trauma with drinks, smokes, and silent tears. There are very few ups (I actually can’t think of a single one) and enough downs to drown a lake. The tensest moment for me wasn’t during an ambush or a surprise bombing, but during one excruciatingly long dinner scene. Everyone, on screen and off, is on edge for fear of what someone might say, not who they might kill. There are two characters in the room the whole time who hardly speak a word and yet you not only fear for them, you fear with them.
These tense moments occur because the damaged characters have almost entirely forgotten about what it means to be compassionate. When Norman gets drafted to the tank-crew he joins a group of veterans who are nothing more than charred remains of their former selves. It’s interesting to see him go through the same transformation as his comrades in such a short period of time. Brad Pitt, meanwhile, plays the rock of the team, and is the kind of leader every platoon dreams of: tough, fair, honest, and calculating. The other great stand-out, to my absolute surprise, is Shia LaBeouf. His character, Bible, is crude but in a sympathetic sort of way. In one monologue, LaBeouf reveals a whole other side of Bible, and the sincerity with which he delivers the lines is shockingly sublime.
These speeches are right at home in Fury’s phenomenally devastated sets, complete with bombed-out towns, muddy fields, and flattened bodies in the road. The special effects, however, are a little less WWII and a little more Star Wars. The gunshots are red and green laser beams and the explosions go off like colourful fireworks. It’s neat to see the ricochets, and I get the purpose of “tracers”, but I think the energetic visuals were (pardon the pun) overkill.
Fury is another war movie but seen from a tank’s perspective. With the brother-bonding, the inevitable PTSD triggers, the hollow refugees, and the devastated landscape, it could easily be any other war film. The acting is good and the staging is strong, but I give it a 6/10 for lack of originality.
What the Fury trailer.