I guess something that weighs over 30 tons isn’t all that safe after all.

It’s April 1945 in Nazi Germany, towards the end of WWII and the Allies seem to be kicking all sorts of ass and taking names. A tank crew working a big mofo named “Fury” is lead by a tank sergeant who goes by the name of Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) who finds himself all torn up over the loss of his second-in-command. Despite the rest of his crew intact, the loss causes him to question how to move on. Their task is straightforward: just fight, fight, and fight some more. Now they’re joined by a newbie named Cobb (Logan Lerman) who is having trouble fitting in with the team due to lack of battlefield experience and personal doubts about whether he can handle killing other people that haven’t done anything specifically to him.

There’s something of a plot to be found in FURY, but at its core it comes down to “Brad Pitt and a bunch of his fellas go around Germany, shooting and killing people.” What sounds somewhat repetitive and boring is used by writer/director David Ayer for a whole other reason.

It’s never made clear what exactly the objective of this story is; usually for a war movie, we understand who is searching for what, why, how they’re going to go about it, and what is going to be accomplished at the end of the day. In the atypical FURY, the only objective of the plot-line is to fight the war, continue killing the enemy, and try to do so without getting yourself or a fellow soldier killed in the process.

fury1

In putting that at the heart of the film, Ayer may have actually captured more of what war is actually like. There’s no need to save any Private Ryan’s, or even any plan to capture top-level Mogadishu-officials. Here, it’s all about trying to stay alive and killing as many Germans as they possibly can, which is probably just how being in a bloody war is like – hardly ever stopping and always fighting. This is a bold move on Ayer’s part, but it’s one that needed to be taking. So rarely is it that we get a war movie that shows us just how screwed up and unforgiving the battlefield truly is without trying to force a message down our throats. FURY‘s moral is that “war is terrible, and people die.” That’s all Ayer seems to be saying here and I think that’s all that needed to be said.

But of course Ayer takes it a bit of another step forward and actually get to discussing the certain soldiers in the war by showing us just the type of disturbing affect the war has on them, regardless of how messed-up in the head the individual may be. This is where Ayer’s writing is at its best, because rather than glamorizing these soldiers and having them come off as the Nation’s biggest heroes, Ayer has them portrayed as a bunch of guys who had nothing else better to give to society back in the States, other than just sitting around and taking up space. On the battlefield, they have a purpose, they have a cause, and most of all, they have a reason to live. Their mantra about working Fury being “the best job they ever had” gives us the impression that this is all they have to live for and they’re more than proud to die if they have to. They may be scared, but they’ll at least feel proud to perish because it’s for a reason, even if that reason is for their own well-being.

I can assure you that this is no melodrama; there are moments of pure drama where characters break down, shout their hearts out, and let us know how they feel. At the end of the day, it’s a war movie, and we get plenty of action-sequences with tanks going toe-to-toe with another, people getting shot, stabbed in the face, lit on fire, and most of all, dying. While these scenes are effective in the most gruesome ways possible, there’s still a feeling that the movie doesn’t know what it wants to say about them – are we supposed to feel bad that countless soldiers on both sides are getting killed? Or are we just supposed to care that way for the American side?

The amazing ensemble makes up for some of Ayer’s shortcomings as a director. Brad Pitt does a lot as Wardaddy, a character of depth who is all about defending his country to the very end and do whatever he has to do to protect those around him, at any costs, he still fears the idea of dying, or even worse, a close-one of his meeting the same fate. He’s an emotionally-battered man that disguises it all with orders, commands, and death, but if you look closely, you can see exactly what kind of person he is, and it’s not all that different from you or I.

Except that he looks like this, a sad reality I live with everyday I look in the mirror.

Logan Lerman deserves a lot of kudos, as the young talent shows us he has what it takes to hang with the big boys. Though his character can be classified as “scared, wimp-ish rookie”, Lerman presents us with shades to this character that makes it easy to see why someone as sheepish and kind as he is, would actually totally change into a ruthless, unforgiving killer. It’s actually pretty horrifying if you think about it, and that is why Lerman’s performance is so good: He’s a normal person like you or me, but now it’s time for him to grow up, face the terrible realities of the war, and start shooting that rifle of his.

Though, as good as Lerman and Pitt are, there is a glaring difference between them two, and the attention they get from Ayer, as opposed to the characters played by Michael Peña, Shia LaBeouf and Jon Bernthal, who all seem like types that want to be more than just that, but never get a chance to cause the writing prohibits them from doing so. However, because these three are all good performers, we get a deeper, more effective camaraderie between the whole group that seems to go further than just “war buddies”; they could actually be something of brothers, that just so happen to be connected by the reality of war.

Bottomline: Maybe not the deepest war movie ever made, Fury doesn’t know where it stands on certain ideas, but is still well-acted by its highly-capable cast and displays a growing talent in David Ayer as a director, even if there is some room for improvement to be made.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

This is a condensed version of the review originally published at Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews.


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