Movie Review: ‘Fury’ captures the horrors of war


Cole Clay // Critic

our rating: ☆☆☆

our rating: ☆☆☆

David Ayer takes a break from the gritty urban crime-dramas (TRAINING DAY, STREET KINGS and END OF WATCH) that have echoed throughout his filmography to tackle the barren landscape of World War II. FURY is a simple drama that hones in on machismo, brotherhood, survival and just a little bit of tenderness. It provides enough of an engaging story to hold interest beyond Brad Pitt’s hardened performance.

FURY plays up the cinematic elements more than it should, which comes off a bit pretentious in the long-run, but there is enough substance to get the war-time drama out of the trenches.

Former Navy man Ayer weaves together the rugged vehicle with Pitt in the lead as Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier, leader of Sherman tank nicknamed “Fury” a mere weeks before the Nazi party’s surrender to the Allies. Occupying “Fury” is a rough and tumble bunch that have spent years caught in a dead-pool within the claustrophobic confines. FURY gives the impression that these men treat the titular tank as a blessing and a curse. Yes, it protects them from leagues of desperate Nazis, but it also serves a prison for the nearly catatonic soldiers.

The crew fit a certain archetype that is static through nearly every “men on a mission” war-time epic. Shia LaBeouf appears in his least annoying role this side of TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN. LeBeouf, who went as far as to scar his own face and remove a tooth for the role, is Boyd Swan, the tank’s resident holy-roller and second in command. Then we have a quasi-feral Grady Travis, a slack-jawed hillbilly with a knack for causing a raucous, that marks another notable performance from Jon BernthalLogan Lerman comes in as a typical wet behind the ears typist turned assistant driver Norman Ellison. who quickly learns his innocence is going to be washed away. Rounding off the bunch Michael Peña who usually stands out, but here is nothing more than a shell of a character as Trini Garcia.

Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) and his crew, Norman Ellison(Logan Lerman), Trini Garcia (Michael Peña) and Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf) in Columbia Pictures' FURY.

Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) and his crew, Norman Ellison(Logan Lerman), Trini Garcia (Michael Peña) and Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf) in Columbia Pictures’ FURY.

Largely FURY isn’t concerned with the casualties of war treating this fact as nothing more than collateral damage no matter how precious the time we spent with the characters may be. Ayer displays this in the shining scene of the film, which is a tragic one-act play rather than an action set-piece featuring Pitt and Lerman inside an apartment occupied by a German mother/daughter (Anamaria Marinca, Alicia von Rittberg) duo. The interlude allows the film come up for air as internal tensions hit a boiling point. Pitt and Lerman show a more elegant side to their performances without causing an identity crisis or sacrificing the rough, yet refined tone.

FURY doesn’t intend to romanticize the war and the men of the Sherman tank, instead it relies on an unwritten moral code to cope with the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (before that condition even “existed”) due to being engulfed in a visceral atmosphere of pestilence and fear.

With a rustic quality that proves to be one of the strongest aspects that depicts the brutality of FURY. Ayer and his cast have strong aspirations for the film, but somewhere along the line the film gets punctured with cliché.

FURY is playing in theaters today.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.