Movie Review: ‘Fury’ captures the horrors of war

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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

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.