Director: David Ayer
Cast: Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, Jason Isaacs
Plot: Normal Ellison (Lerman) replaces a dead bow gunner for a tank regiment, much to the disapproval of the unit, led by a gruff war veteran (Pitt).
Ever since you were a kid, tanks were described as the ace card, when it came to wars. It was essentially the closest we could get to a killing machine, a vehicle fortified with impervious armour, armed with a missile launcher and a giant, compared to the flurry of foot soldiers on the battlefield. David Ayer doesn’t seem to share these view. In Fury, the tank regiment seems handicapped by their vehicle. As we spend entire fight sequence trapped in this claustrophobic setting, we begin to share this sense of containment. Tanks are slow, cumbersome and the first thing to be targeted, when the Nazis unleash an ambush. One tank battle is breath-taking (it is actually surprisingly hard to make a conflict between two slow vehicles as exciting as Ayer makes them), as we get the sense that every shot counts. Brad Pitt’s men can deliver the killing blow to the Tiger 1 tank, but they will end up being hit by missiles twice before they can get into the correct position. The suspense is in guessing whether they will survive those two shots or will their armour finally give way to the relentless barrage of damage.
The tank element helps Fury come out as great as it does, because the main criticism that will hold this film back is the way the movie covers old ground. When the tank battles are over and done with, we are treated to the stock storylines and characters that we expect from other World War 2 films. As we are shown grizzly death sequences, the aftermath of the S.S’s cruelty and the usual psychological damage suffered by the heroes, we think of older war movies, taking us out of the film we are currently watching. Hell, the new recruit joining a set of firm friends has been done since Journey’s End, a play brought out in 1928. Thankfully, Ayer does do these old plot points very well. The tank unit do come across as broken, especially Jon Bernthal’s animalistic Coon-Ass, who embraces the red neck stereotype thrown on him since his stint in the Walking Dead. Some of them are downright unlikeable, whenever the fighting stops. We get the impression that these people are only good for war and it is hard to imagine Jon Bernthal going back to a 9 to 5 job. This is made clear in the dinner table sequence, which becomes an unexpected source of tension and suspense, despite being totally devoid of any German soldiers. The Americans are just as dangerous as the Nazis in their own way and even their commander, sworn to protect them, isn’t quite prepared to unleash them on the civilian population. That entire scene might have been slightly overcooked, but it gets the message across and it is a very powerful one.
But for those seeking a good old war movie, the final scene gives that to you in bundles. The true premise comes clear, the one plastered all over the trailers. The tank hits a mine and ends up getting trapped in the path of a S.S patrol. The next thirty minutes are the utter carnage of warfare, turning this wartime drama into a great action flick. The tension cuts like a knife, as Ayer gives us no clue as to what is going to happen. We are glued to the screen, as each development plays out. We should see each twist from a mile off, but each one happens so shockingly and sudden that we are taken unaware. Ayer is very good at replicating the confusion of a battle. Early on, characters are killed off and we have no idea who that character was until after that fight sequence is over. We don’t entirely get the bigger picture. We don’t know how that German tank got to that specific position, but we do know that it is there and now the Americans have to take it out. That is exactly what the soldiers are thinking and it is insightful to experience that thought process. Yes, Fury might come across as yet another war movie, but, saying that, it is a bloody good one.
Final Verdict: We haven’t had a good war movie in a while and Fury, led by a terrific Brad Pitt, definitely gives us one.