Review by Vladi,
Today, I am happy to say that the month long hiatus of bad movies has finally ended. Today we look at David Ayer’s Fury, which he both directed and wrote. Our film takes place in 1945, during the Second World War, when the Allies were moving into Germany. We follow the lives of Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt), and his motley crew, Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LeBeouf), Grady “Coon-ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal), and Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Peña), a tank crew, riding the Fury.
The movie starts us off as Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a fresh, green army typist, has been signed on to replace the recently deceased gutter gunner of the Fury. As one might expect, he has no combat experience, and he is thrown into a harsh and cruel world in which the only way is forwards.
And when I say harsh and cruel, I really mean harsh and cruel. This movie doesn’t take many shortcuts that other war movies do in painting the horror of war. The movie is very graphic and quite dark. It shows some of the more horrifying things soldiers have had to witness and experience, but even more importantly, it shows how this affects them. Even good war films like Saving Private Ryan or Black Hawk Down will give you one or two gritty/graphic scenes, but for the most part the nature of the narrative feels very much like an adventure. Young men facing terrifying odds out in the world and proving their mettle. In Fury, you really see how much war can destroy the humanity in people. You get a notion of just how much it can twist you on a psychological and emotional level.
Another thing I will praise this movie for is its absence of plot armor. In a lot of films, you will have your young hero who walks through the shadow and the valley of death, but he fears no evil. He witnesses, he experiences, he participates, but he is never ultimately affected. I think that is a great flaw in narrative and character development. In this film, you really see the innocent Norman Ellison transform. You see him struggle to keep his own humanity, to reconcile the world he’s been brought up in to the one which he sees now. You see the the internal struggle that any normal human being would have when faced with this horrifying new reality. And that in itself is a great reflection on the human condition and war.
The performances are very solid. Brad Pitt plays the leader of the Fury, the man who keeps all these odd characters together in what appears to be a living nightmare. A good leader, he’s collected and intelligent. But even he is damaged. He’s hollow. Brad Pitt does an absolutely amazing job with the character. You hate him at times for being hard and cruel to his team, but you also love him for the intensity with which he tries protect them. It’s tough love done right. He dares you to like him and hate him at the same time, and he does it very well.
Shia LeBeouf pulls off an oddly nice performance (never thought I’d say this) as the the bible thumpin’ voice of reason. His character is also quite intriguing. Unlike the rest of the crew, which seems to have hit the “off switch” on emotions, he actively takes in what’s happening around him. He doesn’t try to shut it out like the rest of his team, he tries to live through it and come to terms with it. This brings out a number of very touching performances which tug on the heart strings, and really give us a few very beautiful moments. Again, props to Shia for pulling his own weight. His performance is only second to Brad Pitt’s. I never thought the annoying kid from Transformers could actually do drama.
By contrast, we have Grady Travis and Trini Garcia. They are funny and entertaining, and they do their roles well. Unlike Norman and Boyd, Travis and Trini are, for lack of a better term, emotionally constipated. They seem like nice guys to whom a lot of bad stuff has happened. They aren’t bad people, they’re just terrified and in shock. Their inability to deal with their emotional turmoil says just as much as the other characters’ breakdowns. It says a lot about what extreme shock and violence can do to a man, coupled with the stereotypes of masculinity and its inherent demands of strength and toughness. I really can’t stress enough just how great of a commentary on the human condition this is.
As for the scenes themselves, they are really well thought out. The movie doesn’t overindulge in action, for which it can only earn my props. Every scene takes its time with developing exactly what theme/character it has in mind. And it really takes its time, and makes an effort to draw you into the lives of these people. It’s not in a rush to tell you what happened and how. More importantly, it seems to want to tell you to who it happened and what that meant to them.
No cheesy dialogue, no bad acting, no bad writing. The movie paints the horrific picture of war, puts it in front of us, and asks us what it means to be human. Fantastic film, 8/10, definitely a must-see!