Brad Pitt and World War II. So far, it has proven to be a potent combonation. First Pitt was hunting Nazis in “Inglorious Basterds”, now he is commanding a tank in Germany.
“Fury”, written and directed by “End of Watch’s” David Ayer, tells the tale of five American soldiers who get stuck in their tank behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, they must fight their way through and defeat the surrounding Nazi forces. Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal portray the members of the tank.
There’s really no point of sugar coating it or beating around the bush: “Fury” is one of the year’s best movies and one of the better, and most realistic, war films of all-time. From the haunting depictions of battle, to the heart-wrenching performances, to the high production value everything about this film is as beautiful as it is chilling.
The performances across the board are nothing short of fantastic, with the standouts being Pitt and Lerman. Pitt plays a man who has clearly let the evils of war shatter any morals and sensitivity he ever had, and this is demonstrated when on the first day of the job for the tank’s new recruit (Lerman), Pitt orders him to execute an unarmed German solider.
I have never been a Logan Lerman fan, I believe he plays a pretentious, spoiled boy in every role he takes (“Noah” and “3:10 to Yuma”, just to name two), but the man shut me up with his performance here. He is a soldier who was pulled away from his desk and put on the front lines, and it seems like he will never get used to the idea of taking a human life. But throughout the film we see him begin to change and become more desensitized to the notion of war, but he never loses the innocence that we empathize with.
The rest of the cast are all cookie-cutter roles (minority member, jerky sociopath and Bible-thumper), but the actors all have their moments to shine.
Ayer has proven that he is more than capable of shooting an engaging action scene, but never while sacrificing drama or content. Even when the bullets are flying and shells are being rocketed off, we see the characters’ weaknesses and at times hesitation in their actions. Even at the end of the film, in the midst of an extended battle, the action never feels derivative or redundant, because we are getting heavy doses of human drama, accompanied by a fantastic score from composer Steven Price.
What holds “Fury” back from the greatness it so clearly was striving for is a scene in the middle of the film. After taking a town, Pitt and Lerman come across two German women, who proceed to make lunch. The scene drags on for 22 minutes (I remember looking at my phone twice), and in the end the entire interaction took place simply for a plot point down the road.
If that one scene had been shorter, which it should have been, then “Fury” may have been able to be mentioned in the same breath as “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Hurt Locker” for greatest war movie of all-time. That being said, “Fury” is still a fantastically shot, grittily depicted and powerfully acted war story, which features a climax that had my theater silent when the credits began to roll.
Critics Rating: 9/10