Sunday, October 26, 2014

Review: Fury

Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
David Ayer's "Fury" doesn't break any new ground in the war combat genre, but the bloody and intense film is a solid genre exercise. Set primarily within a tank, the film follows a group of four soldiers and their commander, Don Collier (Brad Pitt), as they trek through the German countryside, mowing down S.S. officers.

There's not a whole lot of characterization here, outside of what we see between the interactions involving the men in the tank. And yet, each cast member brings a little something to their roles, despite the characters being overly familiar archetypes, such as the gruff, but inspiring, sergeant (Pitt), the not-so-nice guy who turns out to be OK after all (Jon Bernthal), the religious platoon member (Shia LaBeouf, who's pretty good here), the not-yet-shell-shocked-newbie (Logan Lerman) and Michael Pena's character, who stands out solely due to the fact that he occasionally mutters in Spanish.

In terms of plot, "Fury" is, perhaps, at times a little far fetched. For example, would Pitt and his men in all likelihood take on a marching army of 300 or so Germans with just five men and a tank, especially considering that, at the time of their battle, the war is officially over and the Germans are on the retreat? Would Collier's company risk their lives just to gun down some more Germans?

Regardless, Ayer does a good job of creating a non-stop sense of tension as Collier and his men roll through seemingly abandoned towns and by burned out barns that just might have German soldiers lurking behind them. And there's a pretty convincing scene during which Collier and Lerman's rookie soldier, who sort of acts as the film's lead character, have a dinner with two German women, only to be interrupted by the other members of their platoon, whose manners are not as refined.

Ayer does not skimp on the grotesqueries. Legs and heads are blown off. A man's face is found inside of a tank. Throats are slit. And on and on. "Fury" is a grim movie, but I suppose the point here is not to shy away from the horrors of war as did Hollywood combat movies of the past, during which men were shot and fell down, but entrails were kept far away from the camera. The film's grimy sense of realism gives it a certain impact.

Needless to say, this is not a movie gunning for awards, but rather a solid action movie held together by the camaraderie of its cast and its unrelenting tension. Ayer's films have been a mixed bag so far - "End of Watch" was pretty good, while this year's "Sabotage" was just OK and "Harsh Times" was, in my opinion, not very good. "Fury" is his best film to date and, at the very least, a pretty impressive action/war picture.

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